The Dangers Of Faulty Mechanics And Maintenance
Although elevators and escalators perform relatively simple functions, their internal machinery is complex. Given the many trips they take each day, plus the constant wear and tear, it is no wonder how often you see them blocked off with “Out of Order” signs. In most cases, the worst the machines at the Westlake Center or Pacific Place will do is break down, inconveniencing Seattle shoppers. However, while elevator and escalator accidents are rare, when they do occur, they can severely injure and traumatize victims. Victims can be crushed in doors, tripped by damaged escalator steps, or killed in falling elevators.
If you or someone you love was injured in an elevator or escalator accident, you may be at a loss as to what to do. But we are not.
The knowledgeable Seattle injury attorneys at Pendergast Law can provide the strong legal guidance you need during this difficult time. We have handled numerous personal injury claims for Seattle residents in our nearly 30 years in practice and can investigate your case to determine if a negligent party caused your trauma. For a free consultation, call us toll-free at 888-539-9211.
How Safe Are Elevators And Escalators?
Statistically speaking, elevators and escalators are relatively safe, especially when you compare the average number of accidents each year to the number of elevator or escalator trips the average person goes on in a lifetime. However, these statistics come from a 15-year-old report that only accounts for elevators and does not factor in the severity of these injuries. It is also important to remember that the reason accident rates are low for elevators is because there is a national standard for safety.
All defective elevator parts must be reported to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which can initiate national recalls to protect consumers. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires regular elevator and escalator inspections to prevent injuries. Here in Seattle, the Department of Construction & Inspections allows property owners to access old maintenance reports and has strict guidelines for inspections and repairs, further reducing accident rates.
But when elevator or escalator accidents do occur, they can be severe and should be thoroughly investigated to determine the cause. In some cases, victims may be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault party.
Types Of Elevator And Escalator Accidents
While most people imagine a falling elevator when they hear “elevator accident,” there are actually a wide variety of accidents that can occur. In addition, escalators often bring to mind trip-and-falls. These types of accidents can be serious, but there are several other types of accidents one can experience when an escalator is faulty. In a recent, tragic incident, up to 24 people were thrown from an escalator when it sped up.
The common types of elevator accidents include:
- Doors closing on people
- Elevators rising or falling at high speeds
- Electrical shocks from defective buttons
- Tripping accidents caused by an elevator being misaligned with a door
- The risk of being trapped in the space between the outer and inner doors
For escalators, you may see:
- Escalators speed up to dangerous speeds, causing pedestrians to trip and fall
- Escalator steps breaking open, causing pedestrians to become caught in the inner gears
Who Is Responsible For Elevator And Escalator Accidents?
The root cause behind elevator and escalator accidents is mechanical error, which can be either the result of a manufacturing error or poor maintenance. Determining which of these caused your accident will point in the direction of who is responsible for your injuries.
Since elevators and escalators have complex internal mechanisms, these machines must be thoroughly tested and inspected to ensure they operate at peak performance. If a single part is out of alignment with the rest of the machine or is defective in some other manner, it could result in a catastrophic accident. An escalator may suddenly move at unsafe speeds, throwing pedestrians to the ground, or an elevator’s door may suddenly close when someone is exiting it. If the primary cause of the accident is a defective component, then you may be able to pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Alternatively, an elevator or escalator may have been designed free of defects, but an accident can still occur if critical parts break down. Elevators and escalators should be inspected at minimum once a year, according to OSHA guideline 1917.116(e), and they should also receive regular monthly inspections to ensure they are safe for use. This responsibility falls on property owners, such as the building manager of an office building, a landlord at an apartment or the owner of a stadium.
If a property owner was aware that an elevator or escalator needed repairs but did not shut it down and schedule maintenance, then they can be found liable in a premises liability claim. In addition, if the property owner should have reasonably been aware of a malfunctioning elevator or escalator but failed to inspect it at regular intervals, they can also be found liable for an accident.
Both of these claims require an in-depth investigation. Your attorney will need to review all maintenance logs for the device, consult with engineers and mechanics about defective parts, and review security footage for signs of negligence. The team at Pendergast Law is prepared to examine every aspect of your accident to ensure you have a strong case for compensation.
What Can I Recover In A Claim?
The injuries that victims suffer in elevator or escalator accidents are often severe, ranging from traumatic brain injuries to spinal cord damage to crush injuries requiring amputation. Victims may be left with paralysis, chronic pain, and mobility issues as a result of a single accident. Not only could you be looking at years of medical expenses for treatment, medication and equipment, but an accident can impact your career. All of this should be factored into your claim.
Victims of elevator or escalator accidents in the state of Washington can pursue compensation for:
- Medical expenses, both past and future
- Lost wages
- Lost career opportunities and future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment
No one should be placed into medical debt or have their life completely upturned due to the actions of another person. At Pendergast Law, we firmly advocate for accident victims and their families to secure full compensation for their trauma. If you work with our firm, we will use all of our resources for your best interests.
Put Your Trust In An Experienced Seattle Law Firm
Manufacturers and property owners like to preach the safety of elevators and escalators, and while these accidents are rare, the truth is that when they do occur, victims can be horribly injured and have their lives ruined. Given how dangerous these devices can be when defective, there is no excuse for a manufacturer to sell a faulty part or a property owner to fail to schedule maintenance to fix any issues.
If you or someone you love was injured in a Seattle elevator or escalator accident, do not hesitate to reach out to the Seattle premises liability attorneys at Pendergast Law. We have recovered millions of dollars for individuals injured by defective machinery and can provide the same diligent legal representation to you. Our attorneys can sit down with you in a free consultation and discuss your options. To get started on your case, contact us toll-free at 888-539-9211.