There are some 900,000 elevators in use across the country. There are five primary types of elevators in use that provide a variety of services. These include passenger, freight, LULA, home, and personnel. The average elevator serves 20,000 people per year coming out to roughly 18 billion elevator trips being taken. Elevator failure accidents and elevator shaft accidents are increasing in numbers with the most recent statistics showing 27-30 people being killed in elevator accidents each year. Most of these accidents are the result of a fall down the shaft. An additional 10,000 injuries, some very serious can be attributed to elevator accidents every year with the majority of these accidents resulting from elevator door accidents, carriage misalignment with floors and other passenger safety accidents.

In the more serious injuries, falls and deaths an elevator accident lawsuit may be filed against the elevator manufacturer and the elevator maintenance company. In most injury and death cases, if negligence on the part of the building or home owner can be established an elevator accident lawsuit may filed or they may be brought into the original lawsuit. In cases involving on the job injuries, normally covered by workers compensation, the injured worker or surviving spouse and children may look at filing a third party lawsuit against any and all negligent parties involved in the design, construction or maintenance of the subject elevator.

Of the 27 fatalities that occur each year, half of fatalities are a result of falling into the shaft in accidents involving service or repairmen. For regular passengers, half of the elevator accident deaths were due to falls in the elevator shaft and the other half of the deaths were the result of being caught between the elevator and the shaft wall.

Causes of Elevator Defects and Malfunction

Elevators, like other complicated machinery can be dangerous as a result of defects or malfunction in the following ways which often prove to be fatal to passengers and repairmen.

  • Pulley System malfunction – this is a mechanical defect causing the elevator to drop extremely fast down the elevator shaft.
  • Open shaft – open shafts risk passengers and workers to extreme falls that often result in serious spinal injuries or death. These result from a failure to prevent entry into the elevator shaft area.
  • Poor maintenance, faulty wiring, lack of inspection can increase the risks of elevator accidents such as electrocution and result in unbalanced leveling and other defects.
  • Door closing defects can result in crushing limbs and appendages. Almost always this is a result of a defect in the elevators safety features that prevent them from closing on an object.

Major Elevator Companies

  • Certified Elevator
  • Columbia Elevator
  • Delta Elevator
  • Electra Vitoria S. Coop.
  • KONE Elevators
  • McKinley Elevator
  • Mitsubishi Elevator
  • Otis Elevators
  • ThyssenKrupp Elevator

Elevator Accident Prevention

To prevent elevator accidents and escalator-related deaths and injuries elevator owners and elevator repair and maintenance companies must:

  • Establishing a permit-required confined-space program for elevator shafts Providing barricaded and fall protection during work in or near elevator shafts.
  • De-energizing and locking out electrical circuits and mechanical equipment when elevators are out of service or being repaired.
  • Employers have an adequate inspection and maintenance program.
  • Employers use only qualified workers for escalator and elevator repair and maintenance.

Elevator Construction Accidents

Another common cause of injuries and death involving elevator accidents is in the beginning before passenger use during the construction phase. In many states, there are strict laws in place to prevent these deadly accidents and safeguard the workers. Unfortunately many unknowing workers are required to use these dangerous out of code elevators and are subjected to unseen dangers. On a construction site, short cuts are the name of the game and the regulations are not followed allowing untrained workers to work on complicated machinery like elevators without the full knowledge and appreciation of the dangers that can result to them and others.

Unfortunately when an employer is negligent, elevator accidents like falling into the shaft occur due to a lack of barricade or electrocution due to unqualified and uneducated workers becomes much more common. Serious injuries and death like these can be easy to prevent with elevator accident with proper training.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employees who are constructing an elevator shaft be attached with “personal fall systems” that can support 5000 pounds of weight. OSHA also has lists of other preventative safeguards that are suggested to all working in or near elevator shafts such as “false cars” that have guard rails and harnesses to keep employees safe.

Additionally while states and cities are fairly diligent in ensuring annual inspections, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is not authorized to regulate elevators as it does for automobiles and other personal equipment. This results in a lack of clarity when there is a defect because the manufacturer is only required to send out a product letter to its elevator owners.

Contact an Elevator Accident Lawyer Today

If you or your loved ones have suffered a severe and debilitating injury or death caused by elevator accident, the Willis Law Firm is here to help you get the compensation you may be entitled to. Often an elevator fall lawsuit must be immediately filed to protect the evidence at the scene and other critical evidence needed to win the lawsuit and damages for the clients. Call for a free case evaluation. Talk to a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer.

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