Elevators are pretty common in commercial buildings and high-rise residential apartments. There are roughly 900,000 elevators in the country today, and most elevator users take an average of four daily rides. More than 325 million elevator trips occur daily, each elevator carrying over 20,000 people annually. While elevators are considered safe, accidents do happen from time to time.
With the number of people that regularly use elevators, accidents are bound to happen. In that case, it’s essential you contact a personal injury lawyer for assistance, as you might be eligible for compensation for any personal injuries or property damage you suffered. The lawyers at KMW Legal can help guide you through your elevator accident case.
What Are the Causes of Elevator Accidents?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a report showing that at least 30 people die, and 17,000 others suffer injuries annually from elevator accidents in the US. The five most prevalent causes of elevator accidents include;
Misleveling occurs when an elevator fails to stop at level with the floor it’s on. This can result in trusting passengers tripping and falling when entering or leaving the elevator. Often times the misleveling is only by an inch or two so that the passenger is unlikely to see the visible difference when entering or exiting the elevator. Such falls can have severe consequences, especially for children and the elderly.
Defective Sliding Doors
It’s faulty elevator sensors that typically bring about this problem. When the sensors aren’t working properly, it can cause the door to close too fast or not detect the presence of a passenger at the door. This commonly results in passengers getting crushed by the door or knocked over as they enter or leave the elevator.
When elevators move at excessive speeds, passengers usually bump into each other, crash into the walls, and fall to the ground. This melee often results in property damage, physical and emotional distress, and physical injuries to passengers.
Lackluster Maintenance and Safety Inspections
Similar to other machines, elevators need proper maintenance to function optimally and avoid accidents. The building codes in many cities require elevators to be inspected twice annually and the necessary repairs to be undertaken. An elevator that isn’t frequently maintained and inspected can easily break down and cause an accident that can lead to severe injuries or even fatalities. To be safer, make it a habit to check for a certificate of inspection whenever you enter an elevator to confirm the elevator has been sufficiently checked. This may seem odd, but if you live or work in a building and use the elevator every day, this is something you should know.
Falls into Elevator Shafts
This type of elevator accident often occurs when the outer doors open and the elevator is not there, causing the would-be passengers to fall into the void down the shaft. This is among the deadliest elevator accidents, and it commonly happens when the elevator is stuck at the top or bottom of the shaft. Faulty equipment and defective door interlocks are the top contributors to elevator accidents involving falls into shafts.
Can an Elevator Malfunction?
Numerous things can go wrong with an elevator, making it malfunction. Some of the leading causes of elevator malfunction are:
This can cause the elevator to stop suddenly and abruptly. Some passengers may suffer injuries as a result of the laws of physics at play.
Door failed to open
This means passengers will be stuck in the elevator until another party opens the doors. While this malfunction doesn’t directly cause injuries, it can cause serious problems in the event of emergencies.
Floor shifting and elevator lurching
The floor of the elevator shifting and the elevator lurching are among the scariest and most dangerous malfunctions since passengers are unrestrained.
Some elevator malfunctions result from manufacturing issues such as poor manufacturing standards. Use of untested parts, among other manufacturing issues, can lead to the elevator not working as advertised, malfunctioning, and causing injuries or deaths.
It’s paramount that only qualified technicians do elevator installations. Using unskilled labor in elevator installation can result in improper installation, leading to injuries or death later.
Some passengers fail to use the elevator correctly, leading to malfunctions—for instance, more passengers boarding the elevators than the allowed maximum or passengers boarding freight elevators.
Most elevator malfunctions are caused by maintenance issues such as poor maintenance, using substandard parts for repairs, and failure to perform safety inspections.
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries?
In the event of an elevator accident that results in personal injuries or property damage, the three primary parties that can be held responsible are:
- Manufacturers and sellers: Under product liability, elevator manufacturers are legally responsible for their products even after the warranty they provide expires. The manufacturer will be held responsible if the elevator accident was caused by design, manufacturing, or marketing defects.
- Maintenance and repair services: Elevators have to be consistently maintained throughout their lifetime by qualified and licensed service technicians. If the elevator accident results from poor maintenance by the maintenance and repair services provider, they will be liable for injuries and damages caused.
- Building owner: It’s the building owner’s responsibility to make sure that the elevators are maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications and by qualified personnel. They will be held liable if they fail to do this and their elevator causes an accident.
A personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and help determine the at-fault party so that they are held responsible for their action or inaction.
What Damages Can I Pursue?
For most elevator accidents, you can recover three types of damages from the liable party – which are:
- Economic damages: This includes compensation for financial losses like medical bills and lost income.
- Non-economic damages: This includes compensation for non-financial losses like loss of consortium, emotional stress, and lost quality of life.
- Punitive damages: This form of compensation is designed to punish the responsible party and is issued in case the elevator accident resulted from negligence or extreme disregard for human life.
What Do I Need to Do if I’m Injured in an Elevator Accident?
If you are injured in an elevator accident, it’s crucial that you call 911 to report the incident to the police and request emergency medical services. The police will come to the scene and investigate the elevator accident and come up with an official accident report. Once you have received emergency medical attention and are in stable condition, contact a skilled elevator accident attorney to help you pursue compensation.
Our law firm has top-notch elevator accident attorneys ready to assist you throughout the claim process. We will help you establish who is responsible for the elevator accidents and hold all parties liable. Our legal team will aid you in determining the actual worth of your claim and get you your rightful compensation.
Contact us online or call us at today to get more insights into your elevator accident claim case.