Who Is Responsible for Elevator Accidents?

elevator accidents

How to Determine Liability for an Elevator Accident

Elevator accidents can occur in the home, on the job, or going about town. Landowners, manufacturers, employers, and business owners may all be liable for elevator accidents. If they do not, they may be at fault under premises liability law.

In Texas, landowners or occupiers must keep their premises in reasonably safe condition so lawful visitors do not encounter unreasonable risks of harm on the property.

When landowners or those in charge of managing property fail to take appropriate actions to make sure an elevator is in good working condition, they may be liable for any injuries that occur. This duty extends to employers regarding their employees.

When an accident is caused by a defective product manufactured by another company, the landowner or occupier who purchased the product may not be liable for the damage caused. Similarly, if the installation of the product was performed by someone other than the landowner and an accident occurs due to faulty installation of the product, the installation company may be liable for any resulting harm.

How Elevator Accidents Occur

One of the ways elevator accidents occur is by a malfunction of the elevator or its operating system. There are three common malfunctions that can cause injury to people who are using an elevator:

  • Mis-leveling – This can happen when the elevator box does not line up with the floor level outside, creating a tripping hazard.
  • Excessive speed – If the elevator is operating too fast, the occupants can lose their balance and fall.
  • Door sensors – Malfunctioning door sensors may fail to detect a person between the doors, triggering the doors to close to early and injure the victim.

Accidents from elevator malfunctions may occur when the property owner has not performed regular and necessary maintenance. They can also happen if the service company fails to perform repairs or installations properly. Other causes include faulty equipment from the manufacturer or malicious actions by a third party. More than one party may be liable for resulting elevator accident injuries depending on the circumstances.

elevator accidentsIn the Workplace

For employees working on and around elevators, the greatest risk is injury from falling to a lower level. According to a recent report by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), construction workers were more than three times more likely to die in an elevator-related accident than any other type of employee.

While falls of greater than 30 feet are responsible for more than half of the fatal accidents involving construction workers, a significant number of fatalities also occur when an employee gets caught in or compressed by elevator equipment. The construction industry also has the highest rate of injuries related to elevator accidents, though injury reports have been decreasing.

Residential Elevators

The home elevator market has been steadily growing and is expected to more than double by 2033. In several instances, residential elevators have proven to be a hazard to young children who can become trapped in the small space between the outside of the elevator door and a door opening onto the corresponding landing. Serious injuries can occur if a child is trapped when the elevator is called to another floor.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued its first recall on residential elevators in 2022. The CPSC said at the time that it was aware of 41 deaths associated with elevators between 2018 and 2021. In the year 2020-2021 alone, there were more than 19,000 elevator-related injuries treated in emergency departments across the United States.

Types of Injuries Sustained in Elevator Accidents

A falling elevator or a fall down an elevator shaft will likely yield the most serious injuries and even cause a wrongful death. Being struck by or crushed in an elevator can also result in significant harm. Young children and elderly adults tend to experience more severe injuries.

Generally speaking, the following types of injuries can occur in accidents involving elevators:

  • Trauma to the head, back, torso, or limbs
  • Brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Neck injury
  • Broken bones
  • Loss of limb

Conditions like these often lead to substantial medical bills and can impact a victim’s ability to work while recovering. If the person is permanently disabled, they may never work again and face a dramatically altered future. If the victim dies, their family may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Seeking Compensation After an Elevator Accident

If you were injured in an elevator-related accident because something went wrong or someone failed to do what they were supposed to do, you may be able to recover monetary compensation under Texas law. The right to receive compensation when you are injured by someone else most often arises because someone who owed you a legal duty failed to carry it out.

The law imposes reasonable responsibilities on people to help keep everyone safe. When the failure to perform legal duties causes damage to others, the responsible party or parties can be held liable. The cause of an elevator accident is the place to start when determining who may have legal responsibility and be required to pay damages.

The fault may be divided among several parties, including the person bringing the claim.

In Texas, partial fault for causing an accident does not prevent you from recovering compensation so long as the percentage of fault is not greater than 50%. However, any recovery will be reduced by the same amount of fault assigned to you.

What To Do if You’re in an Elevator Accident

If you’re involved in an elevator accident, one of the first things you should do is get a medical evaluation. This gives you a baseline for assessing your injuries and establishes a connection between the accident and any injuries that you want to claim were caused by it. You may need to complete an accident report at the property. Answer the questions as completely as possible and keep a copy of the document.

If you need to deal with an insurance company, it may be a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney first. If there are issues about what caused an accident or if your injuries are serious, it’s worth the time to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer. They can discuss your situation, and provide valuable guidance on what to do next.

Depending on your circumstances, your attorney can determine the timeline of events and which laws apply to your case. They can put their experience, training, and skill to work investigating the accident, analyzing the evidence, and forming a compelling argument for compensation. Your lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies and the defendant’s attorneys for a satisfactory settlement; or, if an agreement cannot be reached, the trial attorney can take them to court.

A Dallas Elevator Accident Attorney Who Knows What to Do

Accidents involving elevators can injure the people riding inside and the people who work on or around them. Residential elevators can pose a special entrapment hazard for small children that can result in fatal injuries. Understanding who is responsible for elevator accidents and the injuries they cause depends on determining how, why, and where an accident occurred.

Elevator accidents can cause significant injuries. A malfunction due to the failure to properly maintain an elevator is a common cause of elevator accidents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Often, this means liability for the property owner, property management, or maintenance company.

At Wolf Law, PLLC, our premises liability lawyers will thoroughly investigate an elevator accident claim and pursue all available avenues of recovery. We will strive to negotiate the most advantageous settlement while simultaneously preparing a strong case to take to court if litigation becomes necessary. Choose Wolf Law, PLLC as your trusted advocate for competent and compassionate legal representation in the Dallas area.