Fear of elevators, something beyond claustrophobia, isn’t unusual. Many people fear falling in an elevator or getting trapped in one. This isn’t an irrational fear, though — the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that accidents involving elevators result in about 17,000 serious injuries and 30 fatalities each year. People working on or near elevators, like maintenance workers, repairmen, or elevator installers, are the most at risk. If you’ve been harmed in an elevator accident, you may have grounds to seek compensatory damages from the party that caused the accident. Contact The Joel Bieber Firm today for a free consultation with an experienced elevator accident attorney.
Causes of Elevator Accidents
Falling down the elevator shaft is the most common kind of elevator accident, followed by getting stuck in the elevator’s counterweights as they are moving and getting caught between its gears and moving parts.
An elevator accident can occur due to several issues, including:
- Excessive speeds
- Malfunctioning elevator doors
If the elevator is set to go too fast, the passengers can fall or hit the sides of the car when it comes to a sudden stop. Misleveling can be especially dangerous for people getting on and off the elevator — when the floor of the elevator doesn’t line up flush with the floor of the building, people could trip or get caught.
Defective machinery and poorly maintained elevators cause serious injuries each year. Elevator doors are especially dangerous; when the sensor isn’t working, the doors can shut on a person or a pet, trapping them between two heavy doors.
Injuries You Could Suffer in an Elevator Accident
The kinds of injuries you could suffer depend on how the accident occurred and where you were. Repair techs fixing the elevator often get pinching or “caught-between” injuries, where fingers or limbs get caught in the machinery or the doors. Sometimes, an involuntary amputation can happen.
Other common injuries from an elevator accident happen when passengers fall to the floor or hit the side of the car. A broken clavicle or rib is common, or severe bruising or a concussion. More severe accidents result in more severe injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord damage and partial or total paralysis
- Crushed limbs
- Disfigurement and severe lacerations
- Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
Many people may suffer from multiple injuries and face months of pain and intensive rehabilitation or surgery.
A person who hits their head and suffers from a concussion or TBI may have lifelong complications, including compromised cognitive ability. The complications from elevator accident injuries can affect your ability to work, care for your family, and even live independently.
Your medical bills may be piling up, leaving you unsure of how you will pay them. If the reckless or negligent actions of another party led to your accident and injuries, an elevator accident lawyer can help you get a settlement to cover the cost of your medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Determining Liability in an Elevator Accident
Seeking compensatory damages after an accident starts with determining how the accident was caused and who caused it. Your elevator accident lawyer conducts an independent investigation into the accident to determine the cause and the at-fault party.
In general, a case for negligence after an elevator accident can be made against one of several parties:
- The building owner or property management company
- The elevator maintenance or repair company
- The manufacturer or seller of the elevator
Building owners have a responsibility to keep the property safe and well-maintained. If a property management company manages the building for the owner, then that company would be responsible for the upkeep and service of the elevator. Building owners who allow their property to fall into disrepair can be considered negligent under the law.
If a property management company or building owner subcontracts the elevator maintenance to an outside company and that contractor fails to properly maintain the elevator, then the contractor may share liability for the elevator malfunction or accident.
Finally, the elevator manufacturer is responsible for releasing safe, functional products. If there is an inherent flaw in the design of the elevator or a problem in the manufacturing process that makes the elevator fundamentally unsafe, then the manufacturer can be held accountable for any injuries that happen.
How Our Elevator Accident Lawyer Can Help You?
An elevator accident can be a serious event for a building owner and their insurance company. As you’re lying in the hospital recovering from your injuries, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster representing the building owner, elevator repair company, or manufacturer.
The adjuster might offer you a settlement, and if you are seriously injured and have no idea when you will return to work, the offer can be tempting. But the insurance company does not have your best interests at heart, and it will offer you as little as possible if it acknowledges your claim at all.
When you hire a seasoned elevator accident lawyer, you have a legal advocate fighting just for you. They understand liability laws in your state and how to build a solid case against the negligent party.
Your elevator accident lawyer will file all the paperwork for your claim, making sure to meet all deadlines, including your state’s statute of limitations. The lawyer will also negotiate with the other party on your behalf, allowing you to focus on healing.
Have You Been Injured in an Elevator?
If you have been hurt in an elevator accident, you have legal options. Find a personal injury lawyer who walks beside you and represents you through the legal process, fighting to get you the compensatory damages you deserve.
The Joel Bieber Firm has the experience and resources to build your case and see it through to the conclusion. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with an elevator accident lawyer.