Subway commuters in New York City are increasingly noticing broken escalators that cause them to walk up and down several flights of stairs. According to a news report in The New York Times, these are not isolated incidents. Escalators across the system are becoming less reliable and were available 92 percent of the time last year, down from 96 percent in 2012, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
This has left a number of New Yorkers struggling to walk up and down subway stairs, posing even greater challenges for riders who are older, disabled or those carrying luggage or strollers. Escalators in the city’s subway system are even worse than elevators, which already have a poor reputation among wheelchair users for often being out of service. Problems with escalators may lead to tragic escalator accidents.
Safety is a Serious Issue
Those in charge of the subway system say there are a number of factors that contribute to escalator issues and breakdowns. Most escalators are old and rely on parts that are hard to find or no longer available. They also operate round the clock and MTA officials say they have trouble hiring repair workers. The city’s subway system has 232 escalators across its network of 472 stations, the most of any subway system in the world. And then, there are those stations that don’t have an escalator or elevator. So, riders have no choice but to take the stairs.
In addition to lack of availability, safety is another issue. When escalators malfunction, passengers may suffer serious or even fatal injuries. In 1995, a girl had three of her toes partly severed when her foot got caught in a subway escalator in Manhattan. When elevators break down, it may also put commuters in dangerous situations.
For example, without escalators riders often have to cross a busy street to use a different subway entrance exposing them to the danger of pedestrian accidents. Broken escalators are also a serious problem in the summer months because riders have to climb up long staircases in sweltering temperatures. When people become fatigued while climbing stairs, they are more likely to miss a step or become injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident.
Potential for Serious Injuries
Consumer Watch reports that falls are responsible for a majority of serious injuries caused by escalator accidents (75 percent) while victims getting “caught in” an escalator make up about 20 percent. Children under age 5 are the most likely victims of “caught in” injuries. Common injuries related to escalator accidents include getting caught in the handrail, clothing or shoes getting caught in the escalator teeth, getting caught in between steps, slip and falls, and trip-and-falls. It is critical that escalators undergo routine inspections for safe and smooth operation.
Escalator defects such as missing teeth on the track, loose screws, broken steps, etc. and general malfunctions are typically the cause of injury accidents. Sometimes, a product defect can also cause escalator accidents. Any entity – public or private – has a legal obligation to routinely maintain and service their escalators to ensure that they are running smoothly and are not dangerous for riders. Injured victims can seek compensation to cover damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, cost of hospitalization, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Escalator Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in an escalator accident or suffered injuries as a result of negligence (carelessness) on the part of property owners and/or property managers etc., the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our law firm recovered $3,000,000 for a man who fell and suffered two broken legs when he walked into an open elevator shaft. In an interview by the Canadian television station Global News (similar to NBC) after a fatal escalator accident in Montreal, Kenneth A. Wilhelm stated that the installation of emergency stop buttons that are easily located and run the entire length of the escalator stairs may go a long way in preventing escalator accident injuries and fatalities.
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