The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates incidents involving elevators and escalators kill nearly 30 and seriously injure over 17,000 people each year in the US. Most of these accidents could have been prevented with prudent and adequate inspection and maintenance programs.
If you or a loved one is injured in an elevator accident due to another person’s negligence, you could be entitled to a claim for your injuries and losses. This type of claim falls under premises liability law. It can result in damages for the injured victims and their families, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc.
Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA is ready to help if you consider a claim or lawsuit following an elevator accident. Our highly experienced elevator accident lawyers are ready to discuss your legal options and provide you with a plan to go forward.
Common Causes of Elevator Accidents
When an elevator malfunctions, it can lead to accidents that can cause severe injuries to both passengers and the maintenance crew. Some causes of elevator accidents include but are not limited to:
- Power failures: If an elevator suddenly stops due to a power failure, the passengers inside often jostle about with some hitting rigid walls and equipment. Such malfunctions often cause severe injuries.
- Erroneous programming: Sudden stops can also result from poorly maintained machinery. A robust elevator is programmed to stop slowly once it reaches each floor. If the programming is incorrect, the elevator will stop suddenly at high speed, leading to passengers falling or hitting their heads against the walls and other objects.
- Defective doors: Elevators typically come with built-in door sensors designed to open and close slowly when a passenger enters or exits. However, there are instances when these door sensors fail to detect a person and close in on parts of their body, such as an arm or leg, leading to severe injuries.
- Speed malfunctions: When there is a speed malfunction, the elevator will move too fast, causing emotional distress for any passenger inside. High speeds might also throw the passengers against one another or the walls, leading to injuries. If the braking systems are not functioning correctly, the elevator may fail to stop when it should, thus endangering everyone else.
- Electrocution: There are also instances of severe injuries or deaths due to elevator electrocution. This is often due to improper wiring or power malfunction that causes electrocution when people touch elevator buttons.
- Falls into shaft: Falls into elevator shafts undoubtedly lead to the most severe type of elevator injury. Most elevator fatalities are attributed to these falls. Whenever an elevator is stuck at the bottom or top, it causes an open elevator shaft. This results in open outer doors that come with a missing elevator car. Passengers may not notice that the elevator’s interior is lacking. When they step in, they will fall into a deep hole.
- Mis-leveling: Mis-leveling is another common type of elevator accident. Mis-leveling occurs when the elevator fails to stop at the floor’s level, resulting in an unsafe and unexpected space between the elevator car and the floor. This can be dangerous, especially for children and the elderly, as it usually results in a trip and fall accident.
Common Types of Elevator Injuries
Injuries in elevators may range from minor to life-threatening depending on the type of elevator accident. Some of the typical elevator accident injuries include:
Any bone in your body will likely break from an elevator accident. Common fractures often affect the lower legs and femurs, arms and wrists, hips, and ribs. Facial or skull injuries and spine and neck fractures are common when passengers hit their heads or collide with the wall.
Cuts and Bruises
You could also suffer severe bruises, lacerations, or rashes in an elevator accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Cuts and bruises are wounds that go through the skin to the fat tissue, typically caused by a sharp object. Additionally, you can suffer scrapes, abrasions, scratches, and floor burns. These are usually surface wounds that don’t extend through the skin.
Spinal Cord and Back Injuries
Another common type of elevator injury is spinal cord injury which occurs when a passenger collides with the wall and other objects. Spinal cord injury damages any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. These injuries often result in long-term changes in your strength, stamina, and sensation.
Crush injuries can occur when a force or pressure is put on any part of your body. In an elevator accident, crush injuries arise when part of your body is squeezed between two parts of the elevator system, including closing doors. Damage related to crushing injuries includes bleeding, fractures, laceration, nerve injuries, and inactions.
As mentioned earlier, an elevator accident could also result in the death of a loved one. If your loved one dies in an elevator accident due to the misconduct or negligence of another party, you can sue for wrongful death. This type of lawsuit seeks compensation for the survivors for losses such as lost companionship, lost wages, funeral expenses, and others.
Who Is Responsible for an Elevator Accident?
The liable parties in an elevator accident lawsuit range depending on the accident’s specific facts. However, the three most common responsible parties in these types of accidents include:
- Building owner and lessee: According to Florida law, owners of buildings and lessees of premises must maintain the property and its elevators to ensure they work optimally. When there are safety issues with the elevators, these parties must warn guests of impending dangers. If they fail to inspect or maintain the elevators or notify riders of hazards, they could be liable for injuries and losses resulting from elevator accidents.
- Maintenance companies: Where the owners and lessees have contracted the services of maintenance companies to perform regular inspections of the elevator, undertake maintenance, or make necessary repairs, such maintenance companies could be held liable for the elevator accident injuries or losses if they fail to carry out their duties as stipulated in the work contract.
- Manufacturer or seller: If an accident was caused by an elevator design or manufacturing defect, the manufacturer or seller could be held liable. The law requires them to compensate victims in a product liability lawsuit.
What Should I Do If I Was Injured in an Elevator?
If you or a loved one is injured in an elevator accident, there are several steps that you can take to maximize your chances of winning a personal injury claim. These include:
- Call the police: Call the police and inform them of the incident. Ensure you tell them that you need urgent medical assistance. Once the responding officers arrive at the scene, they will document the accident with a police report. A police report is invaluable when filing claims.
- Seek immediate medical attention: Even when you believe you sustained minor injuries, it is advisable to seek medical attention. The injuries of elevator accidents may take days to manifest and lead to various complications later down the line. You also need all the medical documentation relating to the event to help build a strong case against the liable party.
- Take photos: If possible, take several photos of the accident scene and your injuries. You can also take clear videos if you are in a position to do so. The certification of operation must be displayed in the elevator in Miami-Dade County. If possible, try to capture a photograph of the elevator’s certificate of operation, which contains the elevator’s serial number.
- Collect witness statements: Document witness statements and their contact information, including their name and phone number.
- Contact an attorney: Reach out to an experienced elevator accident lawyer. The right attorney will help take the legal burden off your shoulders so you can focus on recovery. They will also investigate the incident’s circumstances to establish the at-fault party and initiate the claim process.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim in Florida?
If you are injured in an elevator accident in Miami, you will have to file your lawsuit within the Florida’s personal injury statute of limitations, which is generally two years from the date of the incident. If you wait for too long before you file a lawsuit, there is a significant chance that you will be legally barred from suing the party responsible for your injuries. Do not let that happen. Our experienced elevator accident attorneys are ready to begin the claims process today.
Get Professional Help Today – Speak With an Elevator Accident Lawyer
Elevators are essential equipment helping to ease mobility from one floor to another. We often trust these devices to work as designed. But sometimes, due to someone’s negligence or a mechanical flaw, they don’t. When an elevator malfunctions, there is a chance that it will result in an accident that can cause catastrophic injuries and losses.
As mentioned earlier, if you or someone close to you has been injured in an elevator accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the liable parties who caused the accident. At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA, our elevator accident lawyers are ready to help you build a strong case and ensure you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to discuss the specifics of your case and the way forward. We represent clients throughout the state of Florida.