Elevators and escalators are important for using many kinds of buildings such as office buildings, shopping malls, apartment buildings, and many other kinds of buildings. However, every year thousands of people are injured when these machines malfunction, most frequently due to poor maintenance and heavy usage.
Users of elevators are injured in a number of common situations, such as:
- Dropping of the elevator car – elevator cars are supposed to descend at a controlled rate. However, due to poor maintenance, they may drop unexpectedly at a high rate of speed before emergency systems bring the car to a stop. The abrupt stopping of the elevator car can cause riders to suffer spinal injuries, hip injuries, and knee injuries.
- Elevator leveling problems – Elevator cars are supposed to stop level with the adjacent building floor. When elevator cars stop above or below the floor, this can cause a tripping hazard or a falling hazard, depending on the direction in which the elevator passenger is traveling.
- Elevator door malfunctions – Doors are supposed to close slowly and retract upon contact with a passenger or upon activation of a passenger sensor. When doors close too rapidly or fail to retract, passengers can be injured as a result of being struck by the doors or entrapped between the door.
Escalators also cause thousands of injuries every year in some very predictable patterns:
- Sudden stopping, sudden acceleration, and irregular movement of the escalator – Passengers depend on the smooth movement of the escalator stairs to maintain their balance. When the stairs accelerate rapidly, stop suddenly, or move in an irregular, jerking manner, this causes escalator riders to lose their balance and fall. This also greatly increases their risk of injury due to sidewall entrapment or end plate entrapment.
- Sidewall entrapment – Current standards permit only a very narrow gap between the tread of the escalator stairs and the sidewalls of the escalator. When the gap exceeds allowable limits, riders are at risk for crushing injuries between the sidewall and the stair and cutting injuries against the sharp metal edges of the escalator.
- End plate entrapment – At the end of the escalator is the end plate under which the stairs pass. When people or objects get entrapped in the end plate, the powerful escalator motor continues to pull them underneath the end plate. Missing teeth at the end of the escalator are a serious safety hazard, as they are intended to reduce the chance of end plate entrapment.
When riders are injured on an escalator or elevator, our investigation usually reveals a number of potentially liable parties:
- The escalator or elevator maintenance company – Most property owners do not have an in-house staff capable of maintaining a complex machine like an elevator or escalator and rely on an outside contractor for this. When there are shortcomings in the maintenance of the escalator or elevator, much of the liability falls on the contractor.
- The property owners – They have a legal responsibility to make sure that the escalator or elevator is in safe operating condition and must conduct regular inspections of the escalator or elevator in order to alert any maintenance contractor. Without regular inspections by the owner, many maintenance issues may be missed otherwise.
- Property management companies – Many commercial properties are managed by a professional property manager on behalf of the owners. As the eyes and ears of the owners, they are responsible for discharging all of the owner’s responsibilities to ensure the safe condition of the property, including the escalators and elevators.
The Chicago elevator accident lawyers and Chicago escalator accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. stand ready to assist victims of elevator accidents and escalator accidents throughout the State of Illinois.