In a highly-publicized incident in 2012, a New York City woman was fatally injured and five maintenance workers were fired after several security precautions were not followed during service on an elevator. This put the issue of elevator safety more prominently in the headlines and led to closer examination of the frequency and causes of such incidents state and nationwide.
Elevator accidents are very rare, so when one occurs there is a great deal of cause investigation and focus on future prevention.
With about 900,000 elevators in the United States used by 18 billion passengers each year, an average of 27 die in elevator accidents and 17,000 are injured according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For most New York City residents and workers, elevators are a necessary part of daily life with approximately 600,000 elevators and 2,000 escalators in the five boroughs. While elevators are generally a safe way to get from A to B, New York City has the highest number of individuals in the nation injured or killed while using elevators each year.
The most common cause of elevator accidents is poor maintenance resulting in open shafts, uneven platforms, faulty wiring or pulley systems, malfunctioning doors and other mechanical failures. More often than not, human error is a factor. Most incidents of injury or death caused by elevators could have been prevented by scheduled maintenance and standard safety measures.
Under the New York Premises Liability Law and per ASME, it is required that every elevator be inspected by a certified third party annually. Building owners are responsible for maintaining security standards and most have a contract with the manufacturer, installer or a maintenance company to meet these requirements. In certain cases of injury or fatality, accountability for damages may rest with one or more of these individuals or groups if they fail to address dangerous conditions.
Anyone involved in an elevator accident where negligence is a factor should seek to identify the responsible parties to receive compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost income. Contact Okun, Oddo & Babat for a consultation.
Article by Shea Bergesen for Lavery Design Associates, Ltd.
copyright 2013. This article may not be reproduced without permission from the author.