Although they may not be as common as vehicle accidents or construction site accidents, elevator accidents happen more often than people think. In fact, it is estimated that over 12,000 people were involved in elevator accidents the last year. It also reported that elevators and escalators kill approximately 30 people per year and injure over 17,000 people.
Causes of Elevator Accidents
Elevator accidents can arise from any number of malfunctions or careless maintenance. However, the most common causes of elevator accidents are:
· Mechanical malfunction of the pulley system allowing the elevator to “free fall” down the shaft
· Improper leveling that keeps the elevator from lining up correctly with the floor
· Asphyxiation from being trapped inside an elevator too long
· Accidental electrocution due to defective wiring in the elevator
· Becoming trapped between the elevator car and side wall
· Falls resulting from an open or exposed elevator shaft
While elevators must pass state inspections before they are put into use, elevators are not subject to federal regulations or supervision like other products. This increases the potential for serious injuries to elevator passengers, as well as to maintenance providers.
Depending upon the facts of the elevator accident, many different parties can potentially be at fault and held liable in court for injuries resulting from the accident. For example, if the cause was poor maintenance, the owner or service company responsible for maintaining the elevator could be held responsible. If the elevator malfunctioned due to a product defect, the product manufacturer may be held liable.
When elevator accidents result in injury or death, the victim and his or her family may be entitled to recoup the following damages from the responsible party:
· medical expenses
· pain and suffering
· lost wages
In order to win these damages, it must be proved that the responsible party acted negligently, or failed to act with the prudence that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances to prevent the accident.
What to Do if You Have Been in an Elevator Accident
If you gave been in an elevator accident, you should first contact the police and an elevator accident lawyer immediately in order to preserve the evidence at the accident scene and discuss your legal rights. An accurate inspection of the elevator will need to be performed and photographs will need to be taken of the elevator, all of the components and the elevator’s control room. If severe injury or death has resulted from an elevator accident, qualified experts will need to be called in to investigate the scene. Depending upon the nature of the accident, these experts could include:
· An elevator engineer
· An elevator safety expert
· A building management expert
· A fire or rescue expert
Since lawsuits involving elevators are extremely technical and equipment specific, please contact an experienced elevator accident lawyer to discuss your case.