Elevators and escalators are a fixture in modern life, but these conveniences can also be the source of severe or fatal accidents. From an office building to the local mall, people ride these machines thousands of times throughout their lifetime. However, malfunctioning or defective elevators or escalators can be quite dangerous. If you or a loved one has been injured or died in an elevator or escalator accident, we can help. Escalator and elevator accident victims may be entitled to a settlement from the manufacturer or mechanics responsible for maintaining their safety. Call the experienced elevator and escalator attorneys at The Mark Casto Law Firm, P.C. today at 706-450-7071 to discuss your legal options.
Common Kinds of Elevator and Escalator Malfunctions
Elevators can break down in many different ways, all of which can lead to serious injuries for users:
- Mechanical defects that cause sudden drops
- Defective pulley systems cause the elevator to drop down the shaft
- Misaligned or unbalanced elevators don’t line up with the floor, creating a trip hazard
- Doors open before the machine arrives, which could be a fall risk
- Electrocution from a malfunctioning control panel or faulty wiring
- Improperly performed repairs or maintenance
- Lack of inspections to catch defects
Escalators are in constant motion, and parts can quickly wear out, causing a dangerous malfunction. The continuous motion of the stairs also results in accidents and injuries, especially trips and falls. Common escalator defects include:
- Broken or missing screws
- Broken or missing stairs, or teeth missing from the track
- Improperly completed repairs which create trip hazards
- Repairs performed negligently or incompletely, creating tripping hazards
- Empty space between the steps and the wall, where feet could get stuck or people trip
- Mechanical malfunctioning
Dangers Associated with Elevators
There are many safety measures in place to prevent elevator accidents and prevent them from falling. The elevator cars should always have more than one cord holding them up, and safety redundancies should exist so that if one cord snaps, others hold the elevator in place. Elevator shafts have braking systems designed to slow the descent of a broken elevator, so it does not crash to the bottom of the shaft. Even with such safety measures, elevators do have some safety risks, and injuries can happen at any time. Trip and fall accidents are the most common, usually happening when the doors open before the car is fully aligned with the floor.
Sticking a hand or foot to prevent elevator doors from closing is common – but also very dangerous. If the sensor malfunctions, the doors can close on a person’s appendage with surprising force, causing crushing injuries. If the elevator becomes stuck, it can also trap passengers between floors. Elevators are equipped with call boxes, but if the call box or button does not work, then passengers may be unable to seek assistance. Although the chances of physical injury are low in these situations, people may experience significant psychological or emotional trauma from the experience.
Common Types of Elevator Injuries
Common injuries from an elevator accident include:
- Fractured, broken, or crushed bones
- Concussions or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Skull fractures
- Neck, back, and spine injuries
- Sprains, strains, and torn muscles
- Crushing injuries
Common Causes of Escalator Injuries
Due to constant motion, escalators require regular inspection and maintenance to ensure that broken parts will not cause an injury. However, some property owners may cut corners with maintenance, as it can be costly and inconvenient to shut the escalator down. Failing to maintain a safe, properly functioning escalator is considered negligence.
Escalators, by their design, pose many safety risks. Sudden stops can cause people to fall or tumble down the stairs, usually with serious consequences. The sharp metal teeth of an escalator are also dangerous and can cut the foot of an unwary rider. Children, the elderly, and people with mobility limitations may be especially at risk for injuries boarding or departing an escalator.
According to the National Library of Medicine, common injuries from escalator accidents include:
- Cuts, lacerations, and bruising
- Fractured and broken bones
- Concussions or other brain injury
- Spinal cord and neck injuries
- Internal injuries
Who Is Responsible for Escalator and Elevator Accidents?
Victims of an elevator or escalator accident may be entitled to damages, covering medical care, property damage, and lost wages from time missed at work after the accident. However, some elevator or escalator injuries may simply be caused by clumsiness on the part of the passenger, or reckless actions, such as sticking a hand or foot in between elevator doors. Improperly riding an escalator, such as walking up on a downward moving escalator or vice versa, can lead to injuries, but a rider’s recklessness does not mean that the property owner or escalator manufacturer is responsible for their injuries. A broken, defective, or malfunctioning escalator or elevator can pose a significant risk to its passengers. Several parties share responsibility for safe elevators and escalators. If you suffered an injury on an escalator or elevator, you may have the ability to file a claim against one, or multiple, parties.
Property owners have a duty of care to ensure the safety of visitors to the property or residents. People have a reasonable expectation of safety when riding elevators and escalators, but if the owner does not perform proper maintenance on them, people can get hurt. A lawyer may check the inspection records of the escalator or elevator or may note that people have reported problems with the machine.
If the person repairing an elevator or escalator is not properly trained or is negligent in performing maintenance or repairs, they may be held liable, as well. If they make an improper repair, the elevator breaks, and people are injured, then they may be held liable for those injuries.
Sometimes, the manufacturer, elevator, or escalator improperly designed the machine, leading to malfunctions. This may result in safety mechanisms not deploying properly or the doors closing with too much force. Poor design that causes accidents is the responsibility of the elevator company.
What To Do After an Elevator or Escalator Accident
A personal injury or premises liability attorney can help you understand your legal rights and ensure they remain protected after an elevator or escalator accident. If the machine broke or malfunctioned and you were hurt, contact the Mark Casto Law Firm, P.C. to learn all of your legal options. Our experienced and compassionate team will advocate for your interests and seek the settlement you are entitled to under the law. Call us today at 706-450-7071 for a consultation.