Malfunctioning and poorly maintained elevators in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings, also known as the Projects, are increasingly contributing to accidents that result in injuries and fatalities to its residents and visitors. A news article in TheRealDeal.com states that the elevators in NYCHA buildings that are being inspected, tested and maintained by the housing authority places occupants at a greater risk of injury than the general population.
Based on the news outlet’s recent investigation, this is due to a broken system at the NYCHA’s elevator division that is plagued with mismanagement, lack of funding and understaffing problems. Reportedly, the thousands of elevators that serve over 400,000 of the Projects’ residents routinely remain untested. These elevators have posed a serious hazard over the years to passengers as well as the elevator mechanics, and have stranded and trapped residents.
More Injuries from broken NYCHA building Elevators
Since 2013, NYCHA records show that there were 73 injury incidents stemming from its malfunctioning elevators. Compared to elevator-related accidents occurring at other city buildings during the same period, NYCHA’s injury numbers represent a rate that is five times greater. Elevators in the Projects have also been a factor in three fatalities since 2013.
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) maintains and operates a majority (nearly 63,000) of the elevators in the city. While the NYCHA is responsible for its 3,237 elevators across 2,350 buildings, the DOB has jurisdiction over NYCHA elevators. In a 2018 report, the DOB stated that every NYCHA elevator was out of service, on average, at least once each month.
In many of these buildings, residents have to deal with not just the frequency at which the elevators breakdown but also the fact that the malfunctions happen when the elevators are in operation – with residents in them. Many residents including those from the Queensbridge Houses, the buildings in 70 East 108th Street, East Harlem, 177 Sands Street, Brooklyn and the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn have complained about their elevators.
A resident said that one of the two elevators (at her building) breaks down at least “four times a month,” and during the summer months, the line of people waiting for a working elevator would extend outside of her building. At a Brooklyn housing complex, residents stated having to face an out-of-service elevator for six days.
Who can be Held Responsible
Based on what circumstances led to an injury accident involving the elevator and the extent of negligence or carelessness, there are several parties that may be held liable in elevator accident cases for the resulting injuries and damages including, but not limited to, the NYCHA, property owners, property managers, elevator maintenance and repair firms, etc.
Property owners and property managers are responsible for ensuring that a building’s elevators are safe for guests and residents. They are also required to have their elevators repaired in a timely manner and maintained by qualified personnel. The maintenance companies and building owners and managers, etc. must see that the repairs are completed properly. Under the law, an elevator that is being repaired or maintained should have warning signs near it stating that it is out-of-service – so people do not enter it or use it by mistake.
Injuries that commonly occur in these types of accidents, especially for elevator repair crew, include falling into elevator shafts. This may happen if an elevator door opens unexpectedly, or a weak platform gives way, or lack of barriers or warning signs, or due to the lack of personal fall protection equipment, etc. Elevator accident-related injuries may also occur when occupants become trapped or caught in moving parts. Limbs and other parts of the body may be crushed or even severed here. Victims may sustain injuries due to an elevator, counterweight or other falling material that hits them. Broken bones or even traumatic brain injuries tend to result in such instances. People can be severely hurt when the door opens and the elevator is not there.
How an Experienced Lawyer Can Help
Elevator accident victims or those who have suffered injuries as a result of negligence (carelessness) by the NYCHA, property owners and/or property managers etc. will be well advised to seek legal representation. 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 after a fatal escalator accident in Montreal, Mr. Kenneth A. Wilhelm stated that the installation of emergency stop buttons that are easily located and run the entire length of the escalator stairs could go a long way in preventing escalator accident injuries and fatalities.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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