Most people take elevators for granted. When an elevator is well maintained, it is a reliable and convenient way to travel between floors in a building.
However, elevators are composed of very heavy machinery. Because of this, they can present hazards to those who use them.
When someone is injured because of one of these machines, they may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Victims in elevator negligence cases have the right to pursue financial compensation for the losses that result from their accidents.
If another person’s negligence has caused you to become injured, do not delay. Contact a skilled personal injury attorney to pursue the financial recovery that you deserve.
At Morgan & Morgan, our accomplished specialists have decades of legal experience. We have handled numerous elevator negligence cases and have the skills to secure compensation for you.
Do not wait. Reach out to Morgan & Morgan as soon as possible. Fill out our easy-to-use contact form online to schedule your no-cost legal consultation today.
Common Causes of Elevator Accidents and Injuries
Elevators are complex machines with many moving parts. This complexity comes with the inherent risks.
According to recent data, almost 17,000 people are injured on elevators and escalators each year in the United States. Between twenty and thirty people are fatally injured in elevator-related accidents annually.
Elevator mishaps are not as uncommon as many people believe.
There are many common causes of elevator accidents and injuries. Some accidents are unavoidable. But other accidents are the result of someone’s negligence or carelessness.
For example, when an elevator has not been properly maintained or repaired, it can present dangers to passengers. Elevator negligence cases sometimes involve failure by an owner to maintain their property.
In other cases, a defective mechanical part can cause the elevator to malfunction. It is important for victims to hold responsible and negligent parties liable for the damage that they cause.
Other common causes of preventable elevator accidents include:
- Failure to routinely inspect or maintain the elevator
- Operating elevators when they are undergoing repairs
- Inadequate fall prevention measures
- No barriers blocking open elevator shafts
- Lack of adequate training for elevator workers
There are many other circumstances that can lead to elevator-related accidents. When an accident is preventable, victims can pursue an elevator negligence case.
You should not seek financial compensation on your own. Speaking with an experienced elevator accident attorney will give you the best chance of recovering the money that you are owed.
Examples of Elevator Negligence Cases
When someone is hurt in an elevator accident, they can recover financial compensation from the liable person or parties. Some common examples of elevator negligence cases include:
Manufacturers, Repair Companies, and Maintenance Providers
Elevator manufacturing companies can be held accountable for the quality and safety of their products. This is true even if the warranty has expired.
In most states, these issues are regulated under products liability law. These statutes determine who is legally liable for defective products. The following parties can be held legally responsible:
- Manufacturers of component parts
- Product wholesalers
- Product retailers
- And more
In some cases, victims are injured as the result of a defective or flawed mechanical component.
There are three primary types of product defects. These include:
- Marketing defects, like incomplete or misleading instructions
- Manufacturing defects
- Design defects
In some elevator negligence cases, victims can hold elevator sellers and manufacturers accountable for defective products.
Repair and Maintenance Corporations
In many cases, a building’s elevators are repaired and maintained by third-party contractors.
If a repair or maintenance company was negligent or careless, they may be responsible for an elevator accident. Like all complex machines, elevators require routine maintenance.
Consider the following example. Suppose that a maintenance company fails to adequately oil the elevator cable. If the cable snaps or seizes up as a result, passengers may be harmed.
In this case, the maintenance company could be held responsible for the damage that their negligence caused. If a property owner hires a third-party repair company, any negligence on their part may be grounds for a valid claim.
Suppose that a repair company does not properly secure an elevator’s cable, causing it to slip. If passengers are injured as a result, they could pursue damages from the negligent repair company.
Even if you are alone when you are injured, your accident may have been caused by a negligent manufacturing or repair company.
Typically, building owners have the legal responsibility to maintain a safe environment on their properties. This includes keeping elevators and escalators functional and operational.
A property owner must maintain the elevators on their property. Failing to adhere to the suggested maintenance schedule can constitute negligence in some elevator accident cases.
Routine elevator maintenance must be conducted by qualified specialists. Typically, an elevator maintenance company handles this responsibility.
Some property owners rely on unqualified individuals for elevator maintenance. When this happens, they can be held liable for their negligence.
A building owner also has the legal responsibility to repair a broken elevator in a reasonable amount of time. When someone is injured as the result of an elevator in need of repair, the building owner may be responsible.
For elevators that need repair, property owners should take them out of service. Allowing people to use a broken elevator can be dangerous.
If a property owner knows that the elevator needs attention, allowing people to use it is negligent. Very minor repairs may be postponed, but serious issues should be addressed.
For instance, suppose that the lights on the elevator’s buttons need to be brighter. This would not require a property owner to take the elevator out of service.
But imagine that an elevator shakes when it travels from floor to floor. In a case like this, the building owner should not allow elevator passengers. Any damage that results from serious issues would be the responsibility of the owner.
Categories of Damages in Elevator Negligence Cases
“Damage” is the term for payments made to a victim by a person or party that is liable for an accident. In elevator accident cases, like most personal injury claims, there are two primary categories of damages.
The two main categories are “economic” and “non-economic” damages. Both types of payments are examples of compensatory damages.
In other words, the payments are intended to compensate the victim for their losses.
These kinds of damages are intended to make injury victims financially whole. Personal injury victims often face many types of financial challenges and losses.
Some typical examples of economic damages include:
- Property damage
- Current medical expenses and bills
- Anticipated future medical costs
- Lost income and wages caused by missed work
- Costs associated with canceled plans or trips
Any type of financial loss caused by an injury or accident can be claimed by the victim. Economic damages are not meant to make the injured person wealthy. They are only meant to restore the victim to their previous financial condition.
Not every type of negative consequence is financial in nature. After accidents or injuries, victims often face many intangible losses.
Suppose that you sustained a back injury in an elevator accident. How much is it worth to be unable to engage in sports or hobbies that you used to enjoy? What is the value of being incapable of sleeping comfortably because of your back injury?
Non-economic damages are intended to compensate victims for these non-monetary losses. There are many examples of non-economic damages, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental distress, like stress, anxiety, and depression
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring or disfigurement
It can be very difficult to accurately calculate the value of non-economic damages. Consulting with a skilled personal injury lawyer is the best way to ensure that you seek all of the compensation that is rightfully yours.
In rare cases, a jury may award punitive damages to the victim. These payments are not intended to compensate the injured person for their losses.
Instead, punitive damages are meant to punish the liable party. Most elevator accident cases do not result in punitive damages.
Juries only award this type of recovery if the responsible party has acted in a very reprehensible or despicable way.
No matter what the circumstances of your elevator negligence case, consult with a personal injury lawyer. This will give you the highest likelihood of securing a positive outcome.