The most common reason that elevator accidents occur is due to improper maintenance and/or malfunction of the elevator door. Elevators are designed to automatically lock and close the doors, but if the door isn’t properly adjusted, it may open too fast, causing a catastrophic accident. People may also get thrown into walls, the open shaft, and/or become trapped inside. Some accidents are even fatal. A few of these incidents are preventable.
In New York City, for example, there were three people killed in a fatal elevator accident in the past year. The Department of Buildings is investigating the tragedy and making necessary improvements to make elevators safer. As a result, many people were asking themselves: why do elevator accidents happen? The answer lies in the fact that people are far more likely to die in an elevator than by falling on the stairs. In the United States alone, elevators cause at least 27 fatalities and approximately 10,000 injuries each year. Most of these fatalities are maintenance workers.
Of these deaths, almost a quarter are caused by falls. However, the majority of fatal falls do not involve the elevator worker. Others are “caught in” accidents, which involve a person getting trapped between the elevator shaft and a building wall. Finally, electrocutions involve people in elevators, and all of them involve an accident involving an elevator. So, the real question is, why do elevator accidents happen?
In cases where the accident is the fault of the building’s owner or the maintenance company, the property owner or the manufacturer may be held accountable. However, to be successful in this case, the injured party must prove that the elevator had a manufacturing or design flaw that caused the accident. Further, the owner must prove that the elevator operator was aware of the issue. In the worst case scenario, the building owner may even be held financially liable for the accident.
There are several reasons why elevator accidents occur. One is overcrowding. In an elevator shaft in New York, the occupants may be wearing safety equipment. A safety device installed in the elevator can limit the elevator’s ascent. Overloading also causes an elevator to malfunction and fall, causing an accident. In one instance, a construction worker in the Bronx was killed by a malfunctioning hydraulic elevator. The other accident involved a 35-year-old man who pried the elevator doors apart and fell through them.
Another possible reason for an elevator accident is improper maintenance. During maintenance and repair, the elevator should be checked for proper functioning. The worker should turn on the safety features. In one case, a man was crushed to death while attempting to get into an elevator when it started to move. The maintenance worker was unable to turn on the safety feature that prevented the elevator from moving until the doors were closed. This is the best way to prevent such tragic events.
Fortunately, the CPSC has a system for reporting elevator passenger deaths and injuries. Between 2001 and 2003, they documented 56 non-work-related deaths among elevator passengers. In that time, there have been six deaths per year in twenty-one states. Of those, 13 of them involved children. This shows that there are still many potential causes of elevator accidents. The most common is human error, but there are ways to prevent them.
Failure of the elevator door may be a primary cause of an elevator accident. The elevator may have a malfunctioning sensor that causes the door to slam shut and hit the person. Other potential reasons for an elevator accident include control system malfunction, mechanical breakdown, and electrical entrapment. The most common reason, however, is lack of awareness about the safety features of elevators. If this causes an accident, you may be eligible for compensation.
According to the U.S. Census of Occupational Injuries, there were 68 fatal elevator accidents from 1992 to 2003. The victims were not just passengers; they also included maintenance workers, janitors, and clerks. Most of the fatalities involved falls into the elevator shaft. However, a small percentage involved “caught in/between” accidents in which the person got caught between the elevator door and the floor.
In addition to malfunctioning door sensors, other causes of elevator accidents include a defective sensor that causes an elevator to tip over. If you’ve been involved in an elevator accident, it’s likely that the manufacturer will be held responsible. While it may take years to win such a lawsuit, it can be worth the wait. While you’re waiting for compensation, consider the many other ways to get compensated for your losses.