Elevator Injury Lawyer
What is Classified as an Elevator?
An elevator is described as being a cage or car that is installed in or on a building and is used for the purpose of vertically transporting individuals and property. In general, there are three types:
Automatic – No attendant, operated by individual passengers
Manual – Attendant operates, passengers give directions
Escalator – Not technically an elevator, but an electronic staircase that moves people upward and usually has similar liability issues
Potential Elevator Defects
- Faulty wiring
- Unbalanced leveling
- Pulley system defect or error
- Faulty doors
- Electrocution risks
- Intercom malfunctions
- Improper or incomplete repairs
- Lack of safety features
When elevators are improperly leveled, the elevator floor comes to a stop slightly above or slightly below the building’s floor. Individuals entering or exiting the elevator car are thus at a high risk of tripping and falling. Low oil levels or valve leaks in hydraulic elevators can cause this improper leveling, while defective or worn out brakes in older models can be the culprit.
Most Common Elevator Accident Causes
- Improper installation
- Design defect
- Lack of appropriate warnings
- Power failure
- Sudden stops
- Inadequate handrails
- Faulty wiring
- Manufacturing defect
- Inadequate maintenance and inspection
- Sudden dropping of the elevator car
- Inadequate training of maintenance personnel
- Lack of fall protection
- Malfunctioning sliding doors
Elevator doors are fitted with safety devices such as door sensors to ensure that passengers can safely enter or leave the elevator. However, these safety devices have malfunctioned and allowed the door to shut on individuals. When the door closes rapidly at a high speed, it can seriously injure the person who gets hit and knocked down. In addition, this scenario creates the possibility for a horrific tragedy should the elevator then attempt to move up or down.
The speed at which an elevator moves can significantly control the risk of an accident. Elevators have been known to go much faster than they are supposed to, and they have also stopped far too abruptly as they malfunctioned. In such cases, occupants have been violently thrown to the floor of the unit. Elevator cars have dropped a number of floors at high speed then crashed at the bottom of the shaft. Victims have sustained very serious back, neck, leg, brain and spinal injuries.
Escalator and Elevator Accident Injuries
Depending on the type of elevator accident, the injuries a victim suffers can vary. Among the most common injuries received in an elevator accident are:
- Back and neck injuries
- Lacerations and contusions
- Fractured bones
- Crushed limbs or digits
- Head and brain injuries, including concussion
- Paralysis or spinal cord injuries
- Sprains and strains
Who is at Risk for Elevator Accidents?
Anyone who uses elevators is at risk of being injured. Statistics exist that show the particular circumstances in which an individual is most likely to be harmed while using an elevator. Individuals most frequently harmed include:
- Workers installing or repairing elevators
- Employees who use elevators at work on a daily basis
- Apartment residents and hotel guests staying in buildings with elevators
- Senior citizens may get hurt when their canes or walkers get trapped in closing doors
Locations where elevator accidents are most prone to occur include:
- Office buildings
- Large apartment buildings
Safety and Injury Prevention
Here are recommendations to help prevent escalator and elevator injuries. Because a number of these types of accidents are work-related, it is suggested to stress extensive training and protective practices in the workplace.
Power to an elevator unit should be completely shut off during any maintenance procedures or repairs. Electrical circuits need to be de-energized and locked out when elevators are being repaired or are not in service.
Signs are critical for warning individuals about units during servicing. In addition, only trained and qualified staff should be allowed to perform maintenance procedures.
Who is Liable When an Elevator Accident Occurs?
Varying factors come into play when determining who is liable in the case of an elevator accident. One factor is the nature of the event. Some of the individuals or entities that could be potentially liable include:
- Owner of the property where the elevator is located
- Maintenance company charged with inspecting or repairing the elevator
- Attendants operating a manual elevator
- Installation company
Elevator Accident Legal Claims
A few factors determine what type of claim individuals should file if they are victims of escalator or elevator accidents. Such factors include who and what caused the accidents that resulted in injury. When injured parties hire experienced legal help, their attorneys diligently investigate the circumstances of the accidents and determine whether defects exist in the design or manufacturing of the units, or if there is a warning defect. If any of these apply, there may potentially be a product liability claim against the manufacturer or designer of the elevator.
When a defect occurs because of one specific part, there could potentially be a defective product claim filed against the specific part’s manufacturer. Claims surrounding product liability are based on negligence, breach of warranty, and strict liability.
If it turns out that the escalator or elevator was not inspected and maintained properly, the attorney may choose to file a premises liability claim against the manager, owner or tenant of the property. This kind of claim can be complicated, though. A landowner owes different kinds of duty to various individuals, depending upon whether the person is trespassing or invited or a licensee. A skilled lawyer will investigate an injured party’s status on the property and can then determine the duty of care owed by the owner and whether it was violated.
Should someone else’s carelessness that day have caused the accident, like a maintenance man stopping the elevator suddenly, there may be the potential for a personal injury claim to be filed against the worker or his employer. This type of claim is usually based on negligence and alleges that the worker failed to act in a reasonable manner as any other reasonable individual would in similar circumstances.
How Can an Elevator Accident Attorney Help?
The legal team at The Eichholz Law Firm has enough experience in injury law to effectively provide you, the injured person, with the proper stance and foundation to pursue justice and compensation for the damage done to you. We will take the burden off you and do the following:
- Gather evidence needed to accurately present your case, including inspection records, load testing reports, repair and maintenance history, contracts between the elevator company and the property owner, and any proposed renovations needed on the elevator.
- Use our knowledge of regulations and industry practices, along with our research abilities, to delve into various rules or laws that might appear to hinder a claim, then advocate to bring about the proper compensation the law allows.
- Face off with the corporation that injured you, plus go toe-to-toe with any insurance companies involved, to allow you to recover damages.
- Help prevent other individuals from becoming victims of an elevator accident.
- Allow you to receive the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled by law for all the medical expenses, therapy bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages from missed work, emotional distress, and pain and suffering you have experienced due to the injury.
Compensation From an Elevator Accident
If you or a family member received an injury involving an escalator or elevator, it is advisable that you immediately consult a legal representative from The Eichholz Law Firm to determine if negligence by the other party was involved. Our attorneys can talk with you about the various types of compensation available and help determine the probable value of your claim.
You may be entitled to receive compensation for the following:
- Medical costs
- Loss of wages
- Loss of future earning ability
- Pain and Suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Disfigurement and scarring
Our firm’s lawyers are able to help document your expenses and help you determine the potential value of your claim. If necessary, we will bring in an expert witness to help present your non-economic damages to the court. Contact us and we will discuss with you factors that can increase or decrease the potential compensation in your case.