Accessibility means providing those with disabilities access to the same venues, attractions, and opportunities as those without disabilities. However, not all accessibility features are created equal. Wheelchair ramps, one of the most widely available adaptive tools, can make life considerably harder or more dangerous for people in wheelchairs.
Have you been injured due to a faulty wheelchair ramp? You may be entitled to compensation via a personal injury claim. Call Reeves & Mestayer at 228-374-5151 to set up a free consultation now.
Weak or Nonexistent Guardrails
Ramp designers and builders can’t expect people in wheelchairs to stay on the path at all times—mistakes happen, and a well-designed ramp should be able to withstand them. A ramp without guardrails is a huge safety risk, as a wheelchair user could easily fall off the side. If one or two wheels go off the ramp, the wheelchair user could even get stuck and require emergency rescue. The same is true for weak guardrails, but in this case, people may be misled by the presence of guardrails and be less careful. Again, this may lead to disaster.
Wooden ramps are extremely difficult to maintain, since wood is prone to warping, rotting, and caving in. Repairing and maintaining these ramps often requires the replacement of entire planks of wood, which can be time-consuming and expensive. As a result, many homeowners and business owners simply do not maintain them. It’s generally recommended that those interested in adding a ramp to their property either research what it takes to make a wooden ramp safe or choose a different material entirely.
Ramp Surface Too Smooth or Too Textured
Ramps have to have the proper amount of grip to work well. A ramp that is too slick is a fall risk, as people pushing wheelchairs can slip and take the wheelchair with them. The wheels of a slightly older wheelchair may even struggle to grip a too-slippery surface. On the flip side, a ramp with too much grip makes it difficult for wheelchair users to keep moving. In some cases, a wheelchair user may even get stuck and require assistance to get off of the ramp.
If you’ve ever seen a property with a stairway and a ramp next to it with the same slope and angle, you know that good intent isn’t always enough. Ramps that are as steep as stairs are generally very dangerous for wheelchair users, as they need to use an enormous amount of strength to propel themselves up a steep ramp in a manual chair. Even those in power wheelchairs may struggle to get their chair up this type of ramp. When this happens, wheelchair users can slip backward. This could send them into other people or even into the road, posing a massive safety risk to themselves and those around them.
Sharp Turns and Angles
While this isn’t as widely known as the dangers of steep ramps, ramps with sharp turns can be hazardous for wheelchair users. To start, many of today’s power wheelchairs are extremely large and bulky, especially for users that have bags and other items hanging on the back. Trying to navigate a tight turn in a chair like that can leave a user stuck or forced to go back down the ramp backward. Even if the chair is technically slim enough to fit in the turns, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy ride. Wheelchair users may bump their knees or elbows as they attempt to navigate a tight turn.
Ramps installed with good intention but minimal research can frustrate wheelchair users and leave them in the same place they started—unable to participate in an event or activity they were looking forward to. It’s crucial that wheelchair users and advocates speak out about these situations and ensure that injured people get the help they need.
Explore Your Legal Options After an Accident—Call Reeves & Mestayer Now
If you have been left injured by an unsafe wheelchair ramp, don’t wait any longer to pursue the compensation you are owed. Call Reeves & Mestayer at 228-374-5151 or contact us online to find out how we can help you.