March 28, 2016 • Personal Injury
Some may recall the tragic elevator accident that happened in New York City on New Year’s Eve of 2015. According to News Max, a 25-year-old man was crushed to death by a falling elevator at around midnight. The deceased victim was in a building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He heroically shoved a woman out of harm’s way, said “Happy New Year,” and was subsequently crushed to death. The horrible incident brought to light an issue that not many people think about when stepping onto an elevator.
Elevators are common in buildings throughout New York City, but unfortunately, when elevators are not properly maintained, there is a serious public safety risk. Elevator repair professionals and elevator operators are especially vulnerable to the risk of injuries and illnesses due to malfunctioning elevators. However, anyone who rides in an elevator could potentially lose his or her life or sustain life-threatening injuries if there is a problem with the way the elevator functions. When an issue does arise and a victim is hurt or killed, a New York personal injury law firm can provide assistance in making a damage claim to obtain monetary compensation for both economic and non-financial loss.
According to Consumer Watch, there are approximately 900,000 elevators throughout the United States and these elevators make a collective total of around 18 billion passenger trips every single year. Most are located in retail environments, commercial environments or in residential properties that are at least four floors tall.
While most elevator trips are safe, injuries from elevators affect around 10,200 people each year and approximately 27 people die each year in elevator accidents. The majority of the deaths and injuries occur when elevator doors malfunction, when an elevator carriage is misaligned with the floor and when there are passenger safety vulnerabilities in the elevator. Problems could be caused by a fall down an open shaft, a malfunction of the pulley system or a defect or breakdown that causes the elevator to fall down the shaft, and/or by faulty wiring that could lead to electrocution. Unbalanced leveling (such that the elevator doesn’t line up with the floor), incomplete maintenance and repairs, and inspections by unqualified personnel also contribute to the risks that elevators present.
When something goes wrong in an elevator, victims need to understand what legal options they have. An injured victim could pursue a personal injury claim, or the family members of someone killed in an elevator accident could pursue a wrongful death claim. That said, the plaintiffs in either claim would still need to determine who to hold liable.
Sometimes, elevator manufacturers or elevator maintenance professionals can be held accountable if there is a defect in the elevator or if it was not maintained properly. Property owners might also become liable for losses if their negligence played a role and they failed to fulfill their duties to ensure a safe environment under premises liability laws. A personal injury law firm can help those who wish to pursue a claim determine all parties who could be held financially responsible based upon the circumstances of the elevator incident. Contact Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff today to discuss your options and rights under the law.