Elevators are used by people at their office at work, or at their apartment building or visiting a building with an elevator.
A properly operating elevator is often taken for granted. However, an elevator that does not function correctly can lead to terrible accidents and injuries.
There are elevator laws and codes that must be followed by elevator companies when they have to install, inspect and maintain an elevator.
New York has its own local elevator laws which include documented inspections. These documents must be preserved.
If you are involved in an elevator accident, you need an experienced elevator accident lawyer with knowledge of these laws.
An elevator accident lawyer can determine what type of legal action will get the best result. You should choose an attorney who has had experience handling elevator cases.
Who is responsible for accidents in elevators?
Often, a company services and maintains the elevators. Those companies have contracts with the owner and/or managing agent for the building and they have to make sure that the elevators are operating in a safe condition. These companies have insurance separate from the building owner.
Elevator accidents can occur because of poor maintenance or service to the elevators.
The Elevator Accident Lawyer has to do a thorough investigation as to how the accident occurred. There are documents and items the lawyer must obtain, some of those are:
- Any security video from inside and/or outside of the elevator in question.
- Copy of the contract between the owner of the building and the company who services the elevators.
- Work and maintenance records for the elevator.
- Elevator design and installation records.
And many more.
To prove liability, often the plaintiff must establish that an issue with the elevator caused the accident. The plaintiff must also establish that the defendant had actual notice of the issue and failed to take reasonable steps to remedy the problems, such as placing signs on the elevator, taking it out of service, and calling a maintenance company, or that the defendant should have known of the issue and failed to act.
Sometimes the courts recognize the theory of Res Ipsa Loquitor in elevator cases. This means that the accident speaks for itself. This theory limits the necessary proof to win.
Types of elevator accident cases:
- Mis–leveling – This occurs when the elevator is not in alignment with the floor (landing), this can cause the passenger to trip or fall when entering or exiting the elevator. Often this is caught on a video installed in an elevator.
- Closing doors – Often, this occurs when the elevator door sensors do not work and malfunctions and the elevator doors closes on a passenger’s body while the passenger is exiting or entering the elevator.
- The elevator suddenly stops between floors – when a sudden stop occurs, the passengers inside the elevators typically are not secured and often this sudden stop can cause the passengers to be thrown into the doors, walls, or floor of the elevator.
- Falls into the elevator shaft – When an elevator is functioning properly, the elevator door will only open when it is perfectly aligned with the floor it has stopped on. If the elevator is not operating properly, the shaft may be exposed and a passenger without knowing can step into the elevator and fall down an empty elevator shaft causing severe injuries or death.
Other Types of elevator accident cases:
- The elevator suddenly accelerates
- The elevator suddenly decelerates
- Wet and slippery elevator floors
- Broken tiles on elevator floors