We often do not realize how old some elevators are, how poorly maintained they are, how badly inspected they are, how incompetent some inspectors are, and how outdated some of the elevator parts are. It is surprising, in fact, that more people are not injured every year on elevators.
Elevator accidents can occur as a result of sudden acceleration or deceleration; they can occur when elevators stop on an unlevel floor, causing passengers to trip and fall upon exiting or entering the elevator.
Accidents can occur when doors open and close abruptly or unexpectedly, or when the elevated itself stops suddenly. In some cases, the elevator doors close on an embarking or disembarking passenger, injuring or trapping the person. While fatal accidents on elevators are quite rare, elevator defects can be quite serious and can lead to significant personal injury, including death.
Among the most common defects reported are:
- Unbalanced leveling and the failure of the elevator to line up with the floor.
- Faulty wiring or wiring malfunction or entrapment due to the heat from fire or water from emergency sprinklers or hoses.
- Pulley system malfunction or any mechanical breakdown that causes a rapid drop within the shaft.
- Risk of fall created by an open shaft, faulty doors or other failure to protect passengers from entry.
- Elevator control malfunction including the risk of electrocution.
- Faulty or incomplete repairs, maintenance, or inspections by unqualified personnel.
Not all elevator accidents occur in connection with passenger elevators or in general public or commercial facilities. In fact, a vast majority of the more serious elevator accidents are related to industrial elevator mishaps. The first step in analyzing any elevator case, therefore, is to know about the elevator hoist mechanism. What kind of elevator is it?
- A hydraulic elevator?
- A traction elevator?
- A climbing elevator?
- A pneumatic elevator?
Next, we must analyze where and how the elevator is being used. Is it a residential elevator in a private home? An agricultural elevator? A hospital elevator used for patient beds? A freight or cargo elevator? An elevator in a high-rise office building? An elevator in a parking garage? Is it a glass elevator? A wheelchair elevator?
It is important to seek prompt medical attention if you have been injured in an elevator accident. You should also promptly report the accident to the owner of the building or the property where the elevator is located. However, you should not give a full statement concerning the circumstances, or regarding your injuries, until you have first consulted with an attorney.
The Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick is ready, willing and able to assist you in this regard. If you are involved in an elevator accident, and if you are able to do so, you should make a note of the inside and outside appearance of the elevator unit.
If you have a cell phone (and are capable of doing so), or if you are accompanied by somebody is not also injured, he or she should take pictures of the inside and outside of the elevator – the doors, the button panels, all printed notices hanging within the elevator, the walls, the lighting, and any peculiarities.
If somebody is in the vicinity of the elevator and the elevator is subsequently placed out of service, you should take a picture of the “out of service” sign as well.