Here’s a troubling fact. According to the Center for Disease Control and Preventions, elevator and escalator accidents injure almost 17,000 people per year. Even worse, they kill nearly 30 people each year. When such accidents happen, they are usually a form of premises liability. This means that in a large number of cases, elevator, and escalator accidents happen because the property owner or operator is at-fault.
Under California law, property owners, and operators are required to ensure that their elevators and escalators pass regular inspections. They are expected to be maintained regularly to ensure that visitors to the property do not suffer harm from malfunction. Sadly, these regulations are often neglected by property owners and operators.
If you have been injured or suffered damage in an elevator or escalator incident, you may be entitled to maintain an action for premises liability. With decades of experience handling various forms of personal injury cases, our premises liability attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are equipped with the skills and know how to help our clients claim successfully.
There are around 900,000 active elevators in the United States. These elevators lift to an average of five floors. Millions of Americans that live or work in buildings that use elevators or escalators have to traverse them several times a day. Given the frequency of their use, strict regulations are in place for their maintenance and regular inspection. Despite strict regulations, a large number of people are still harmed or killed from accidents involving an elevator or escalator.
While both escalators and elevators both contribute to their share of injuries and fatalities, elevators are responsible for the vast majority of these injuries. In fact, nearly half of annual deaths occur in relation to elevators. One of the most frequent causes of these injuries and fatalities is falling elevators. When cables are overstretched, an elevator could become nonfunctional at the most unexpected time, leading to severe damages. Factors like frequent overloads and other structural damage also contribute. Incidents such as being caught between the moving parts of escalators will contribute to serious injury. Collapsing escalators or faulty speed settings on escalators can also cause damage.
If you have been injured in an elevator or escalator accident, it is advisable that you consider filing a premises liability suit. This is because you may sustain injuries or damage that you should not have to pay for out of your own pocket. Besides, filing such suits helps to make premises owners accountable for their lapses.
Although the general position of the law is that an owner or operator of premises would be responsible, fault may not always lie at their feet. In some situations, the property owner may have complied with the law. They would have done all they are legally required to do to maintain the property but accidents will still happen.
In such instances, fault will lie elsewhere. This may be with the manufacturer, the installer or the elevators maintenance company. The manufacturer may be held responsible if a part of the elevator fails to work properly. This is called a product defect. If the damage you suffered is due to this, you can claim against the manufacturer.
If a specific part of the elevator or escalator has a history of failure in similar machines, liability could also lie. It will be assumed that the manufacturer knew about the risk. The installer will be liable where they installed the elevator or escalator incorrectly. This would also be the case for installation in a manner that does not follow the building codes. They are employed for their particular skill in installing the machines and if they fail to do this properly, they may be liable.
In other circumstances, the accident will arise because the maintenance company failed to carry out adequate checks on the machine. If this is the case, you can maintain an action against them. They are expected to send a licensed inspector to perform routine inspections. The inspector should also note any worn parts and recommend repairs. If an accident happens because they failed in any one of these duties, they may be responsible.
Once you have determined who is at-fault for the injuries, you can begin the process of filing your claim. There are usually two ways to go about this. Since most buildings carry insurance for premises liability, you can make a claim with the building insurers. It is important that you contact a personal injury lawyer before you contact the insurance company. This is because insurers would rather not pay you if they can. It is in their best interest to protect their bottom line by defeating as many claims as possible. So they do not exactly want to see you succeed.
Besides, putting together a viable claim takes a lot of work. You need to ensure that you have it right the first time, so the insurers have less to hold on to as a reason for denying your claim. Your personal injury lawyer will know exactly what facts and evidence to emphasize to ensure that your claim is successful.
The second route you can explore for compensation is to file a premises liability claim in civil court against the at-fault party. If you wish to pursue this route though, you need to ensure that you have a lawyer that has no reservations about going to trial. Succeeding through this route will require a lot of evidence. This includes expert opinion, pictures, and testimony from witnesses if possible.
If you are able to prove your claim, you can recover compensation for any medical expenses you have incurred after the accident. The cost of any specialist treatment or physical therapy will also be recoverable upon successful proof. To recover these sums though, you will need to prove that you are entitled to the compensation. Your personal injury attorney will help you plan your case strategy and secure key evidence that will prove your claim in court.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries after an elevator or escalator accident, our skilled team of premises liability attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you get the compensation you deserve for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.