How Common Are Elevator Accidents?
August 12, 2022
Elevator accidents may seem rare, but these incidents do happen and cause a range of serious injuries. You may take them for granted, but elevators are powerful machines that can be dangerous. They pose risks not only to riders but also for the people who work in or near them.
There are several reasons why an elevator may fail to work properly. When injuries do occur, they are typically attributed to a failure to properly service and maintain the elevator. The majority of elevator accidents involve sudden falls or elevator cars landing incorrectly above or below floors due to inadequate inspection and maintenance.
Many elevator accidents have preventable causes, such as lack of barriers to prevent falls down shafts, lack of fall protection, or the elevator was still operational when undergoing repairs. In these cases, the property owner and manager can be held liable for a plaintiff’s injuries, damages, and losses.
Types of Elevators
There are two, common types of elevators. The first is called a cable-borne elevator. This type of elevator uses a system of cables, winches, and weights to lift the elevator up and down in the elevator shaft. Cable-borne elevators are generally safe as long as they are inspected and maintained on a regular basis. Cable-borne elevators are required to be inspected and maintained often so that they do not become stuck. If the owner or manager of a building fails to provide the proper inspection and maintenance of the elevator, then they are putting the passengers at risk and can be considered to be committing the act of negligence.
A second common type of elevator is known as a hydraulic elevator. Hydraulic elevators are generally used in low-rise buildings, while cable elevators are more frequently found in high-rise buildings. Hydraulic elevators use hydraulic lifts to move the elevator cars shorter distances. Hydraulic elevators also require annual inspections and regular maintenance by the building owners or managers. In hydraulic elevators, the hydraulic mechanisms can malfunction, or hydraulic fuels can leak, causing dangerous failures of these elevators. If the building owners or managers fail to properly tend to these issues, they can be found negligent for subsequent injuries.
What Are Common Types of Elevator Accidents?
The following are some of the most common types of elevator accidents that can result in serious injury or death:
- Falls down elevator shafts.
- Being caught in or between moving elevator parts.
- Elevator or platform collapses.
- Getting struck by elevator or counterweight.
Children are the most vulnerable to being crushed in the gap between an elevator car door and the elevator hoistway door in some elevators. Children as young as two years old and as old as 12 years old have been crushed to death in this gap, according to the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC). The fatal injuries they suffer include multiple skull fractures, fractured vertebrae, and traumatic asphyxia.
What Are Top Causes of Elevator Accidents?
There are many reasons why an elevator may fail to work properly. Elevators have several complex parts that require regular inspections and repairs. When elevator accidents happen, they are usually attributed to a failure to properly maintain the elevator or a defective design. Most elevator accidents are caused by:
- Sudden drops or falls.
- Defective safety strips on the elevator doors.
- Lack of barriers to prevent falls down elevator shafts.
- Speed malfunctions.
- Unwarranted stops.
- Elevators still operational when out of service.
- Incorrect installation.
- Improper elevator design.
- Inadequate elevator inspection and maintenance.
- Inadequate training for onsite workers.
No matter how many precautions a person might take when riding in an elevator, dangerous conditions may exist that can cause severe injuries.
Many elevator accidents can occur due to the negligence of a building owner or the party responsible for maintaining the elevator.
What Are Typical Elevator Accident Injuries?
An elevator accident can be extremely serious and result in debilitating injuries or permanent disability. An accident involving a sudden stop may result in soft tissue injuries, while a fall into an elevator shaft can cause paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, or even death.
The following are some of the most common kinds of injuries that result from elevator accidents:
- Broken bones and fractures.
- Ligament and soft tissue damage.
- Concussion and head injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries.
What Damages Can I Receive in My Elevator Accident Case?
If you have been injured in an elevator accident, you may potentially seek compensation for the following:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses.
- Surgeries and hospital stays.
- Prescription medications.
- Physical and occupational therapy.
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering.
- Mental anguish.
- Loss of life’s enjoyment.
Though elevator accidents may not be as common as other types of accidents, the outcomes are often catastrophic and involve life-changing injuries. Too often, the injuries incurred as the result of an elevator accident are fatal. This greatly affects families and loved ones.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
If you were harmed in an elevator accident, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced lawyer. Your lawyer will help you navigate the complex legal process.
Galfand Berger LLP has a history of success in premises liability cases:
- $700,000 settlement in elevator injury case. Our client suffered multiple serious injuries while stepping out of an elevator that continued to move upwards after the doors opened. This caused her to step out into the open space and down to the floor. Our thorough investigation revealed that the elevator had a history of mis-leveling, and the service company had been out to repair the elevator several times in the weeks leading up to our client’s accident. Despite being aware of the elevator’s unsafe condition, the building owner kept the elevator in service without providing any warnings about the risk of mis-leveling. We brought claims against the building owner and the elevator maintenance company that was under contract to inspect and repair the elevator. Our skilled team was able to obtain a $700,000 settlement on behalf of our client.
Philadelphia Premises Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Can Help if You Have Been Injured in an Elevator Accident
If you have been injured in an elevator accident, one of our experienced Philadelphia premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can answer your legal questions and review your case. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.