This article will focus primarily on elevators used on commercial properties (office buildings, shopping malls) and in apartment or condominium complexes. Elevators may travel by hydraulic piston or cables driven by an electric motor. Elevators are designed to minimize lateral movement and to stop evenly with each level. When an elevator car reaches its intended floor, two sets of doors (one set on the elevator car and the other on each level / floor) are calibrated to open together only when the car is level with the intended floor. When an injury occurs in this setting, an elevator injury lawyer should be called after medical attention is sought.
Elevator injuries fall under the broader heading of premises liability law. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, less than 30 people are killed by elevators each year, but over twenty thousand are injured due to elevator-related incidents (this number includes escalator injuries as well).
Types of Elevator Injury Cases
- Misleveling. This is when the elevator car stops higher or lower than the floor. Typically this will result in a trip and fall injury. While elevator maintenance companies should strive for the elevator car to level perfectly with the landing, applicable standards allow for a slight differential or slight misleveling. However, when the misleveling exceeds the standards in the applicable jurisdiction (i.e. the elevator car stops under the landing, creating a tripping hazard; or over the landing, creating a drop) serious injuries may result.
- Falling Down Empty Elevator Shaft. Often involves inadequate use of warning signs during elevator maintenance. People expect a car to be in place when an elevator doors are open. When the elevator car is not where it is expected to be, people may fall into the elevator shaft and result in serious injury, even death.
- Elevator Door Closing Quickly. Often involves faulty sensor (i.e. typically you can waive your hand in front of a closing door and it will open due to these sensors) or rebounder (a rebounder is that vertical soft rubber bar that sticks out and causes the door to open when any pressure is applied to it). When an elevator door closes quickly and unexpectedly it can knock people over (especially the elderly or children) or cause blunt trauma injuries.
- Elevator Car Sudden Rise or Sudden Fall. This can obviously cause serious injuries depending on how far the car rises or freefalls, how many people are in the car, etc…
Who is responsible for an elevator injury?
Property manager, Elevator Maintenance Company, Elevator Installer, Elevator Manufacturer? An experienced elevator injury lawyer will look into the building’s elevator maintenance plan. It is important to determine how often the defective elevator was being maintained and inspected. Your elevator injury attorney will then dig deeper to see if the maintenance was sufficient for the elevator by looking into the elevator’s history of causing prior injuries, how often it breaks down, and how comprehensively the elevators are inspected during maintenance checks.
If you or a loved one has been injured in or due to a defective elevator or escalator, please call 305.931.6666 or 954.523.8292 immediately. Personal Injury consultations are always free.