Elevator Accident: Who’s Responsible?

Fear of elevators is one of the most common phobias—and this fear is not necessarily irrational.  According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)—a branch of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)—incidents involving elevators result in 30 deaths and 17,000 serious injuries each year.  The highest risk is posed to those working on or near elevators and elevator shafts, including repairmen, installers, and maintenance workers.  Here’s what you need to know about elevator accidents in California.

What Causes Elevator Accidents

According to the NIOSH study, the most common cause of fatal elevator accidents is falling into the elevator shaft itself.  Other causes include getting caught in or between the moving parts of the elevator, or struck by elevators or counterweights while they are moving.

Some common causes of elevator accident injuries include:

  • Misleveling occurs when an elevator fails to come to a stop at the correct position on the level, leaving a dangerous space between the elevator car and the floor.  This situation is especially hazardous for children and the elderly or disabled, who may trip or get caught in this space.
  • Excessive speed. If the elevator car exceeds recommended speeds, sudden stops can cause passengers to fall to the floor or crash into the sides of the car, potentially causing injury.
  • Dysfunctional elevator doors. Improper maintenance of elevator doors can lead to doors closing too quickly, or failures in the trigger mechanism ensuring the doors re-open if it detects an obstacle.  Injuries can result from doors closing on passengers before they fully enter or exit the car.

Who is Liable in an Elevator Accident?

Elevator accident liability depends on the facts of the case.  In general, a case can be made for the negligence of one or more of three primary entities:

  • The building owner or lessee. Building owners and lessee’s have what is known as ‘premises liability’—in other words, they are responsible for maintaining a safe and hazard-free environment on their property.  In the case of elevators, this includes regular maintenance and safety checks by qualified professionals.  If the building owner or lessee failed to properly maintain their elevators, they may be legally liable for any injuries in an elevator accident on their property.
  • Maintenance and repair companies. If the building owner or lessee contracts the elevator’s maintenance to an outside company, that company may be responsible for your elevator accident.  For example, if they failed to service the elevator based on the recommended maintenance schedule, or were negligent in making repairs to a faulty elevator, they may be held legally responsible.
  • The elevator’s manufacturer or seller. Product manufacturers are legally responsible for the safety of their products—including if the product is outside of its warranty.  A case may be made that the manufacturer or seller is liable due to design defect, manufacturing defect, or marketing defect (for example, failing to notify the purchaser of the product’s hidden dangers).

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an elevator, you may be entitled to legal compensation for your injuries.  In your search for an experienced elevator accident injury attorney/lawyer, consider the award winning Dominguez Firm.  We have settled multi-million-dollar judgments. We recently obtained a $5.9 Million-dollar settlement for a building worker that was seriously injured when he fell down an elevator shaft. Clients throughout Greater Los Angeles have entrusted us for the past 30 years to fight on their behalf to maximize the compensation they deserve.  Call 800-818-1818 for a free consultation about your case.

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