Elevators offer a relatively safe way to transport between floors in retail stores, condominiums, commercial buildings and high-rises. Unfortunately, elevator accidents do occur. The National Institute of Health states that over 17,000 individuals are injured every year on average, and 30 lives are taken annually as a result of an elevator accident.
Many injuries involving elevators are the result of a sudden stop, jolting start or traveling at fast speed. The elevator doors might cause an injury when they fail to open properly, or quickly close. In some situations, the generator or cable of the device fails and causes a malfunction. Some people have fallen to their death down an open elevator shaft. Horrific elevator deaths are often the result of elevators failing to arrive at the floor level even though the outer doors open for entry.
Major Causes of Elevator Accidents
Common elevator accidents often occur from various factors including:
- Defective Sliding Doors – Many personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed when the victim is injured in an elevator defective sliding door accident. When elevator passengers are struck by the elevator door and endure serious injury, it is often the result of defective equipment when the closing speed is adjusted improperly, door protective equipment is installed incorrectly, or other conditions were the door crushes the victim, especially on their hands and fingers.
- Mis-Leveling – A leading factor that causes many elevator accidents involve mis-leveling where the hydraulics do not brake properly, stopping the compartment at a level higher or lower than the hallway floor. Mis-leveling is a common problem in older apartment complexes built from the 1930s through the 1960s. These old systems suffer oil issues and valve problems.
- High-Speed – Excessive speed is another common cause of elevator accidents when a system counterweight malfunctions or the controlling system fails to detect the actual speed properly. When the passengers on board the elevator compartment are thrown against the wall or down to the floor, they can suffer serious conditions including injury to the spine, hands, wrists, knees or ankles.
- Open Shaft Ways – Death by falling in an open shaft is the leading cause of wrongful death litigation in elevator accidents. These types of accidents can occur when untrained personnel attempt to remove passengers when an elevator stalls, or when passengers illegally open the outer doors when the elevator is at another floor.
- Other factors – Many victims of elevator accidents are injured or killed by electrocution. These accidents are often the result of improperly wired components installed by an electrician or elevator contractor. Elevator personnel and maintenance staff also suffer serious injuries including crushes and amputations when installing, repairing or maintaining the elevator in an unsafe work location.
Filing a Claim for Compensation
The high majority of elevator accidents are the result of a defect due to poor construction or lack of maintenance. Building owners have a responsibility to ensure the safety of every traveler on an elevator. They must ensure the elevator is in proper working order and that maintenance follows a strict schedule. When someone is injured through negligence or defective equipment, the victim has the legal right to file a claim for compensation.
Hiring a Chicago elevator accident attorney is crucial to receive adequate recompense for all injuries, losses and damages. The skilled attorney can collect evidence to support the claim by speaking to witnesses, taking photographs, obtaining construction and maintenance records and reviewing medical records to build the case. The lawyer might also higher mechanical experts who are knowledgeable in analyzing elevator equipment to determine if any mechanical defect played a part in the accident.
If you, or a family member, have been involved in an elevator accident and suffered injuries or death, you have the right to seek compensation. Through a successful negotiation or lawsuit trial, you can obtain funds to pay for your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost earnings, emotional and psychological trauma along with physical pain and suffering.
Contact the Chicago Injury Center to speak with an experienced attorney regarding your elevator accident. You can schedule a no-obligation free initial consultation to discuss your case. Your lawyer can provide you numerous legal options on how to hold those responsible for your injuries accountable for your financial, physical and emotional damages.