Elevator injuries – who is at fault?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2023 | Premises Liability |

There’s a reason why elevators appear as settings in tense or horrifying moments in TV shows and movies. Scenes such as people being crushed by elevator doors, falling down elevator shafts, and getting stuck between the doors as the car moves are not uncommon in horror movies.

But you don’t need to watch shows to know how dangerous elevators can be. According to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, elevators and escalators kill approximately 30 and injure some 17,000 people each year.

Most common elevator-related accidents

While the modern elevator has plenty of safety features, it can still cause accidents. Common accidents and the injuries they can cause include:

  • Malfunctioning doors: The doors of an elevator might refuse to close, which could lead to fall accidents for passengers. Elevator doors might also close on passengers entering or exiting, which could cause crushing injuries.
  • Unleveled stops: Elevators are supposed to stop at each floor while leveled properly, but sometimes they can abruptly stop either too high or too low from the floor. Too high, and the passenger alighting the elevator could fall. And if it’s too low, the level difference could cause passengers exiting the elevator to trip on the floor and injure themselves.
  • Sudden stops: If an elevator suddenly stops, passengers could lose their footing and fall. Emergency brakes may prevent the cab from falling further, but the unexpected jolt is enough to knock people down.

These accidents are often the result of poorly maintained elevators and can result in either grievous injuries or death.

Victims of an elevator accident can file a claim on their injuries through a premises liability lawsuit if they can prove that the defendant was negligent in their duty to keep the elevator safe.

Deciding fault in an elevator accident

Who is at fault when an elevator causes injury? There are several individuals you can hold accountable for the accident, including:

  • The property owner
  • The landlord or lessee, if it’s a rental property
  • The manufacturer of the elevator

In a negligence case, you have to prove that either the landlord, property owner, or elevator manufacturer was careless – either in the way the elevator was made, installed, or maintained. You also have to prove that they had a duty to ensure the safety of a guest or consumer and that their failure to maintain the elevator breached that duty.

If you get injured in an elevator accident, it’s advisable to get legal advice from an attorney with knowledge of premises liability laws, because such cases can get convoluted when so many individuals can be held accountable. An attorney can offer you a case evaluation and help you figure out what your next course of action should be.