Something most people take for granted is that when they step foot on an elevator or escalator they will be raised or lowered without any incident. This was how my parents and I thought when we went on our vacation to the Bahamas last year. As we were coming to the conclusion of a tour around the island we stopped by one of their famous hotels to look around. My mother got on the elevator and was lowered to the first floor. However, instead of stopping on the first floor it lowered almost two feet below the ground level. The hotel maintenance workers spent nearly three hours attempting to get the elevator to raise to the appropriate level but eventually had to lift my mother over the rail. The fact is that these stories are quite common and occur everyday in different businesses such as hospitals, corporate offices, shopping malls and other buildings which utilize elevators and escalators.
Man-made devices such as elevators and escalators are subject to defects and malfunctions. With an estimated 900,000 elevators serving an average of 20,000 people each year in the United States alone it is easy to see how these types of situations can occur. Common types of defects in elevators can occur in any of the following ways:
– pulley system malfunction or mechanical breakdown
– open shaft posing a risk of fall
– faulty wiring/ electrocution
– unbalanced leveling
– entrapment during emergency
Escalator accidents occur at a much smaller rate than elevator accidents but with no less severity of outcome. Mishaps which occur on escalators are disproportionately represented by two age groups: children five years and under and adults age sixty five and older. A 2006 study concluded that an estimated 26,000 escalator injuries involving children were treated in emergency rooms between 1990 and 2002. The elderly category surged to an estimated 40,000 injuries during that period with most injuries resulting from slips, trips and falls. Each year injuries occur from safety protocol deviations while performing maintenance, doors opening with no car in the shaft, passengers being caught between the doors or falling from an escalator just to name a few.
It is the responsibility of the premises owner to ensure that their elevators and escalators are maintained correctly. Georgia law requires the owner of the premises to have their elevators, escalators and stairways inspected and maintained regularly. Any injury that occurs on the property due to the negligence of the property owner in failing to adequately maintain these devices could result in substantial monetary liability for the premises owner. It is also important to note that elevators and escalators will often have several different companies responsible for their upkeep. For instance, an injured party could seek damages from the owner of the elevator/ escalator, maintenance company responsible for servicing it and the owner of the actual premises where the elevator/ escalator is housed.
Douglasville Personal Injury Lawyers represents clients injured due to the negligence of others. Our office offers free consultations and can advise you of all the options available to you. Contact us today.