Elevator Accidents

New York City Elevator Accident Attorneys

If you are like most New Yorkers, you use elevators routinely and don’t give a second thought to the possibility of catastrophic injury or death when an elevator malfunctions. Unfortunately, such accidents do happen. The personal injury law firm of Rich & Rich, P.C. has a strong reputation for an aggressive litigation style that consistently yields positive results. If you or a loved one has been injured in an elevator or escalator accident anywhere in the New York area, you can count on our experience and determination to achieve justice on your behalf.

Common causes of elevator accidents in New York

When elevators function properly, they are extremely safe. However, mechanical defects or substandard maintenance can produce numerous problems leading to deadly results.  Serious personal injuries and wrongful death have resulted from:

  • Abrupt starts, violent stops, and over-speeding — When an elevator moves suddenly, stops suddenly, or accelerates beyond a safe speed, passengers can be forcefully knocked off their feet, causing injuries due to falls.
  • Door malfunction — Doors should respond to contact with passengers by withdrawing on contact. However, a malfunction can cause the door to close quickly and forcefully enough to knock a passenger over. Doors may also close upon a passenger's arm or leg or fail to open, trapping passengers inside.
  • Dropping — A sudden fall by the elevator car can injure passengers just as if they had fallen from a great height.
  • Failed interlock systems — Elevator doors should never open unless the car is stopped at a floor. Malfunctions can cause elevator doors to open when the car is between floors, exposing passengers to the dangers of the empty shaft.
  • Faulty maintenance — The 2012 death of an ad executive, crushed between floors of a Manhattan office building, was blamed on maintenance workers who had failed to enable the doors’ safety circuit after performing repairs.
  • Misleveling — An elevator should stop where its floor is flush with the landing. When the levels are off, passengers can easily trip and fall.
  • Shaftway falls — A fall down an open elevator shaft can result in permanent disability or death.

Rich & Rich, P.C. provides the forceful advocacy you need to obtain full compensation for your injuries.

Who is responsible for an elevator accident?

Elevators and escalators require proper periodic maintenance to prevent erratic operation that could cause injury to passengers. A building owner’s duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition extends to the building’s elevators. An owner can be held liable for an elevator accident based on a failure to notice a problem or a failure to take a poorly functioning elevator out of service.  An owner can also be held liable for failing to modernize an old elevator in a timely manner.

A building manager, as agent for the owner, can be held liable for failing to inspect, repair and maintain elevators in a reasonably safe condition. Additionally, an elevator maintenance company that has an exclusive maintenance contract with the building owner or manager can be held liable.

Courts have applied the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in elevator malfunction cases. This principle, Latin for “the thing speaks for itself,” allows a jury to infer negligence when an unusual event such as an accident has occurred, because such problems as drops, misleveling, and violent, abrupt stops do not normally happen unless someone has been negligent.

Swing-door elevators present a risk of catastrophic injury

In recent years, numerous problems have arisen with so-called swing-door elevators installed in small buildings and private homes. These elevators are especially dangerous for small children who try to enter on their own, only to be trapped between the outside door that swings shut and the inner, accordion door that they are unable to open. When the elevator moves, the child is exposed to the crushing force of a powerful machine. Death or permanent disability is often the result. If a family member has been injured by a swing-door elevator in your home, trust Rich & Rich to fight for the best possible outcome.

Elevator accident attorneys in New York

When you need an experienced accident attorney to represent your interests, contact Rich & Rich, P.C. at one of our offices in midtown Manhattan or Long Island.

Don’t wait.  Contact Rich & Rich, P.C. today. Call 212-406-0440.

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New York City Office

1430 Broadway,
Suite 1802,
New York, New York 10018

Roslyn Heights Office

277 Willis Avenue,
1st Floor,
Roslyn Heights, New York 11577