Maybe you have never stopped to think about the mechanics at play when you step onto an escalator or into an elevator. When they work as they should, you don’t give them a second thought, but the fact remains that they are complex machines with many moving parts that could cause injury, or even death, if they are improperly maintained. Elevator and escalator accidents do not make the news as often as motor vehicle accidents but when they occur, they may be serious.
Every year in the United States, elevator and escalator accidents kill about 30 and injure 17,000 people. Many accidents of this sort can be traced back to negligence on the part of the party responsible for the machine’s upkeep. If you or a loved one has been injured in an elevator or escalator accident, Guajardo & Marks can help.
Escalator Accidents: More Common Than You Think
In the United States, around 10,000 people per year are admitted to emergency rooms because of escalator injuries. Senior citizens and children are more likely than others to experience escalator accidents. A few of the causes of escalator accidents include:
- Missing track teeth
- Absent or loose screws
- Too much space between the moving steps and the side of the escalator
- Broken or missing steps.
Here in Dallas in 2011, 20 people were injured in an escalator accident with the DART public transportation system at Mockingbird Station. Two adults and 18 students were on the down escalator when it suddenly sped up and thrust the group onto the floor at the bottom. A similar accident in 2013 injured 15 people in San Antonio.
Elevator Accidents Can be Deadly
Escalator accidents are more common than elevator accidents, but elevator accidents are more likely to lead to a fatality. Two elevator deaths in two weeks led to some serious concerns in Los Angeles in 2011, and that same year a San Antonio woman fell to her death in an elevator shaft.
Elevator accidents are extremely rare. With about 18 billion elevator trips in the United States per year, roughly 27 deaths annually work out to a fatality rate of about 0.00000015% per trip. Even though elevator accidents are less common than escalator accidents, they tend to be deadlier due to the heights involved.
Some of the more common causes of elevator failure include:
- Malfunction in the pulley system, which could cause an elevator to fall within the shaft
- Faulty doors, which leave the shaft open and could cause a fall
- Faulty wiring, which could cause electrocution
- Poor levelling, where the bottom of the elevator is not level with the floor
- General poor maintenance.
In addition to all of this, there is the risk of entrapment. Entrapment occurs when one or more people are in an elevator that stops between floors, so the passengers cannot get out. Most cases of entrapment are resolved within a few hours, with no serious harm done, but not every case ends without injury.
When is an Accident Due to Negligence?
A high proportion of escalator accidents are at least partially attributable to alcohol intoxication on the part of the injured party. But in many cases the party responsible for the conveyance’s upkeep and maintenance is found to be negligent.
For an elevator or escalator negligence claim to be successful, it must be established that it was the defendant’s responsibility to maintain the elevator or escalator. It must also be proven that the defendant knew (or should have known) about the problem with the machine, and that they failed to take reasonable action to address it.
Negligence actions in these cases can potentially be brought against property owners, property management companies, retail stores, maintenance companies, manufacturers, distributors, and inspectors.
For someone that has suffered a serious injury due a defective elevator or escalator, the fallout can be severe. There could be incredible pain, suffering and financial consequences. The victim of an escalator or elevator defect can seek compensation for the costs of those damages by filing a personal injury claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an elevator or escalator accident, you may have a viable personal injury claim. Contact Guajardo & Marks as soon as possible. Guajardo & Marks of Dallas has more than 20 years of experience, and has the knowledge and resources to effectively help you get the compensation to which you are entitled. If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 972.774.9800.