Elevator accidents are incredibly serious and often lead to severe injury or death. Unfortunately, these accidents are probably more common than you think, especially in crowded, vertical cities such as New York City.
According to the CDC, accidents involving elevators and escalators injure about 17,000 people each year, with over half of these events resulting from elevator malfunctions..
If you or a loved one has suffered from an elevator accident in New York City, you may be able to receive compensation for your pain and suffering. Contact the legal team at Halperin & Halperin, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation.
Elevator Accident Causes
Millions of people ride elevators every day in malls, office buildings, department stores, and other multi-floor buildings across the United States. In most cases, these systems safely transport passengers to a higher or lower floor without incident. However, when the elevator malfunctions, passengers are at risk of experiencing severe injury or even death.
Elevator accidents occur due to a wide range of reasons. Sometimes these accidents happen due to a misstep from the victim, but they are often the result of an oversight or lack of maintenance from the property owner or elevator company.
Here are a few of the most common causes of elevator accidents:
Falling Into the Elevator Shaft
Sometimes an elevator incident occurs when a passenger falls into the elevator shaft. This is especially common among maintenance workers in the elevator inspection industry, as these workers must often enter precarious areas to perform maintenance on elevator shafts.
Elevator malfunctions increase the chance of a passenger falling into the shaft. If the external doors open prematurely, someone could accidentally step into the shaft and fall several floors.
Malfunctioning elevator doors account for a significant portion of annual elevator injuries.
Properly functioning elevators utilize a built-in mechanism to prevent doors from closing when there is an obstruction, such as a person entering the elevator car. However, if elevator doors close too quickly or this mechanism malfunctions, passengers may be injured by the force of the closing doors, or they may get stuck in the doors, putting them in grave danger.
Elevator malfunctions may cause elevators car to travel at unsafe speeds. Properly functioning elevators move at a slow, safe rate that prevents passengers from losing their balance. However, if the elevator malfunctions and begins to move too quickly, passengers can lose their balance, jostle around the car, and knock into each other, resulting in critical injuries.
Sometimes, elevator braking systems wear down due to age or regular wear and tear. When this occurs, an elevator can experience unbalanced leveling, causing it to stop a few feet above or below the desired floor level.
Unbalanced leveling often causes children or elderly riders to trip on their way out of the car, leading to bruises or broken bones.
Faulty wiring is another frequent cause of elevator malfunctions. An elevator’s wiring can become frayed or damaged due to fire, water, or regular wear and tear. This form of malfunction can lead to electrical shock, impact the pulley system, or even cause the car to begin free-falling through the shaft.
Pulley System Malfunction
Pulley systems play a significant role in an elevator’s proper functioning. If some aspect of the pulley system fails, the elevator could fall off track or drop rapidly through the shaft.
Unfortunately, pulley malfunctions are some of the most common causes of elevator deaths.
Lack of Elevator Maintenance from Property Owners or Manufacturers
Many of the elevator malfunctions and mishaps listed above are the result of improper maintenance. To ensure that elevators continue working correctly year after year, property owners and manufacturers need to regularly inspect, maintain, and repair these systems.
Elevator inspections could prevent the majority of common malfunctions from occurring, saving lives in the process.
Common Elevator Injuries
The malfunctions we described above can lead to a wide range of injuries. A few of the most common injuries include:
- Head injuries
- Broken bones
- Loss of limbs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Bruises and abrasions
Unfortunately, the most severe injuries on this list can lead to death. The CDC reports that about 30 deaths occur each year due to elevator crashes or malfunctions, representing the dire consequences these situations can have on unsuspecting people.
What To Do if You Are in an Elevator Accident
If you have experienced an elevator accident—even if your injuries are minor—you might be able to receive compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. We recommend following these steps to assist your case in the event of an elevator incident:
- Receive medical attention: Even if you feel fine, you should visit a medical professional after experiencing an elevator accident. A doctor will be able to identify any medical consequences of the incident, and having documentation of these medical conditions can help your case in a lawsuit.
- Gather information: If there were any other victims or witnesses at the accident scene, you should try to collect their contact information. These people may be able to help your case if you file a lawsuit.
- Document the scene: If you can, take photos of the building and document information such as the building’s address, the date and time the accident occurred, and any other pertinent information about the incident.
- Contact a lawyer: Hiring an experienced elevator accident attorney, like those at Halperin & Halperin, P.C., can increase your chances of receiving compensation in a lawsuit. Elevator accident attorneys know the ins and outs of the legal system and can help you gather evidence, walk you through the lawsuit process, and present your case convincingly and accurately.
Contact Our Team Today
Experiencing an elevator accident can be frightening, stressful, and overwhelming. If you or a loved one is a victim of an incident involving an elevator, you need a professional, capable law firm on your side to help you represent your case to the judge.
At Halperin & Halperin, P.C., we have extensive experience representing victims of a wide range of elevator accident cases. Our knowledgeable team is ready to assist you through the legal process, and you can feel confident that we will do everything we can to help your case.
Schedule your free consultation today with a Halperin & Halperin, P.C. team member by calling 212-935-2600. We look forward to talking with you.