Five Common Causes of Elevator Accidents in New York City

New York City is home to 63,000 elevators and the city’s elevators make a staggering 35 million passenger trips each day. And according to the most recently available statistics, elevators across the United States make about 18 billion passenger trips a year. Each year, there are 27 deaths as a result of elevator accidents, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC),

There have been a number of incidents in New York City where tenants and guests have been seriously injured or killed as a result of malfunctioning elevators. While elevator accidents may not occur as frequently as say, auto accidents, when they do occur, the consequences can be catastrophic or even fatal.

Why Elevator Accidents Occur

Here are the five common reasons why elevator accidents occur in New York City:

1. Misleveling: Accidents and injuries routinely occur due to this factor and contribute to a number of personal injury claims in New York. Misleveling occurs when an elevator fails to come to stop at the same level with the hallway floor. Misleveling often occurs in brake-controlled elevators that are found in apartment buildings built between 1930 and 1960.

Misleveling may still occur in hydraulic elevators because of problems with valve leakage or low oil conditions. If you have been injured as a result of elevator misleveling, you may be able to show repeated problems with misleveling that required multiple repairs and possibly violations or citations issued by the New York City Department of Buildings (NYCDOB).

2. Faulty Sliding Doors: This type of elevator accident usually occurs when the elevators have sliding doors. Passengers get hit by sliding doors or get caught in between when door protective devices are defective or malfunction. Also, doors that are improperly adjusted may strike and injure passengers. In older apartment buildings, elevators that have swing-type outer doors can cause crushing injuries especially to fingers and hands if the doors shut too quickly.

3. Excessive Speed: When an elevator is moving at an unsafe speed, passengers may possibly get thrown onto the floor or against the elevator’s walls. This may cause serious injuries especially to the head, back or spine. These types of elevator accidents can occur when the counterweights malfunction or the control system is not working as it should to detect that the elevator is going too fast.

4. Falls into Shafts: This type of elevator accident usually causes the most severe injuries and fatalities. The most common causes of falls into elevator shafts are defective door interlocks and removal of passengers from a stalled elevator by untrained personnel. Elevator doors are not supposed to open unless the elevator has arrived at the landing. An open elevator shaft is extremely dangerous. If someone falls down a shaft, it often results in fatal injuries.

5. Rapid drops: There are a number of mechanical problems that can cause an elevator to drop rapidly in the shaft. One of the most common causes of a rapid drop is the malfunctioning of the pulley system. The cables that hold your elevator in place in the shaft allow the car to travel up and down. But, if the pulley system malfunctions, the car can plunge multiple stories at extreme speeds potentially tossing passengers around in the elevator and causing severe injuries including blunt force trauma.

What is the Responsibility of Property Owners?</strong?

Property owners, property managers and elevator maintenance companies are responsible for ensuring that a building’s elevators are in proper working condition and are safe for guests, tenants and visitors to use. When an elevator accident occurs, the DOB investigates the incident. Property owners and property managers also have an obligation to make sure that their elevators are repaired and maintained routinely by qualified, certified professionals. Those companies and building owners and managers, etc. have a responsibility to ensure that the repairs are completed properly.

When elevators are in the process of being repaired or maintained, companies are required under the law to put up warning signs stating that the elevator is under repair so people don’t mistakenly use them. There are several parties that may be held liable in elevator accident cases including, but not limited to, property owners, property managers, elevator maintenance and repair firms, etc.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in an elevator accident or if you have lost a loved one in an elevator accident, 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 may go a long way in preventing escalator accident injuries and fatalities. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

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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