Imagine riding in an elevator and experiencing a sudden or violent drop. The drop is so violent that it causes you to break your arm. This is an example of Elevator Liability. When an elevator breaks down, the patron riding in the elevator may be subject to serious injuries. Although elevator injuries do not happen often, when they do, it is important to know how to act.

Depending on the circumstances, the party that is liable may vary. Most of the time the parties liable include the elevator manufacturer, designer, any and all maintenance, repair companies that worked on the elevator, and the building owner.

What Qualifies as an Elevator?

A court will address the type of elevator when evaluating whether a party is liable and the amount of damages that can be awarded. An elevator is defined as a car or cage installed in a building that is used for the vertical transportation of persons or property. There are three general types of elevators:

  • Manual: Elevators operated by an attendant who is told by the passenger where to go. Manual elevators have doors that are generally opened and closed by hand. Manual elevators are less likely to be found in modern buildings.
  • Automatic: Elevators operated by passengers without an attendant present. These elevators run automatically without having passengers to press floor buttons. Automatic elevators are the most common type of elevators used today.
  • Escalators: While not technically elevators, these electronically-powered staircases are similar to elevators and fall in the same genre as elevators when concerning elevator liability. Although escalators are slow personal garments can be caught in them potentially causing injury.

How Can Someone Be Found Liable for Elevator Liability?

Elevator liability is based on a type of personal injury claim called negligence. Generally, elevator accidents occur because of negligence on the part of the party responsible for the accident. If the party that is potentially liable will vary depending on if the elements of negligence are satisfied. Listed below are the elements that must be considered.

  • The negligent party breached his duty of care to the injured party
  • The negligent party must be the cause of the injury
  • The type of harm must have also been foreseeable, or “reasonably anticipated”

What If It Is Difficult to Prove Which Party’s Negligence Caused the Injury?

Under some circumstances, if the elements above cannot be proven it is still possible to have a negligence claim. An additional option would be to make a claim for negligence under a different theory. The injured party can attempt to establish the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which does not require the elements of negligence to be proven, but instead the negligence is automatically inferred to the liable party. Res ipsa loquitur may be easier to prove if there is a difficult time proving all of the elements of a standard negligence claim.

Who May Potentially Be Liable For Elevator Accidents?

Evaluating who is liable for an elevator accident depends on the nature of the accident. Individuals that could be liable for elevator accidents include:

  • The owner of the building in which the elevator or escalator is located
  • Any elevator maintenance company hired to inspect or repair the elevator
  • Elevator designers or elevator manufacturers
  • Any companies that install the elevators
  • Attendants or employees responsible for operating a manual operator

What Are Some of The Most Common Types Of Elevator Accident Claims?

Determining the most common type of elevator accident is difficult because there are so many different circumstances that cause them. Elevator Accident claims range from a mistake made by the employee to a problem with the installation process. Listed below are the most common types of elevator accident claims:

  • Elevator doors that unexpectedly slam shut on a patron and cause injury
  • Sudden elevator movements or “free-falls” that cause a rapid or violent drop of the elevator.
  • When a person falls down an open elevator shaft that was not readily visible
  • When the elevator gets stuck between floors for a significant period of time
  • Defects in the design or manufacture of the elevator or its doors

What Damages am I Entitled to?

If you are found to be a victim of an elevator liability lawsuit, you may be entitled to damages. Under tort law, damages will be rewarded based on the amount of harm created. Your damages could be either economic damages, including lost wages, hospital bills or, noneconomic damages including emotional distress or, pain and suffering.

Will I Need to Contact A Personal Injury Attorney About My Elevator Injury?

Legal requirements for elevator liability are always changing and can be very complicated. For these reasons, it’s in your best interest to contact a competent personal injury attorney for assistance with an elevator liability lawsuit. An experienced personal injury attorney may represent your interests in a court of law to your benefit.