Elevator and Escalator Accidents Lawyer in New York

Elevator and Escalator Accidents NYCEvery day, millions of people use elevators to get to their office, home or to navigate many buildings with multiple floors. Most people take for granted that the elevator will function properly as part of their daily expectations and routine. When something goes wrong, however, the results can be catastrophic. Further complicating the area of elevator accident law are the detailed and voluminous elevator laws and codes which govern the installation, inspection and maintenance of elevators throughout the country. In fact, New York has its own specialized Local Laws which govern elevator installation, inspection and maintenance. Special training and knowledge is necessary to understand the application and determine whether a violation has occurred which is a proximate cause of an elevator accident.

Additionally, elevators have evolved from the early days of elevator installation and are now complex pieces of machinery involving a myriad of engineering disciplines. A thorough understanding of the evolution of elevators and the theories behind elevator safety devices is necessary to successfully litigate a claim involving an elevator accident. If an electric elevator is involved ANSI /ASME Standard A17.2.1 should be consulted. If a hydraulic elevator is involved ANSI/ASME Standard A17.2.2 should be consulted.

Often times, in larger buildings, the company that maintains and services the elevator has a contract with the owner and managing agent for the building to make sure that the elevators are maintained in a safe condition. These larger buildings will usually have a representative of an elevator company either on site or on call at all times. Many elevator accidents occur due to a failure to properly maintain and service the elevators by the on–site elevator company. For buildings without an on–site elevator company, laws were enacted to make sure that the building owner utilizes properly trained professionals to inspect, maintain and service the elevators on a regular basis. The failure to do so often leads to elevator accidents.

What Documents Does My Elevator Accident Lawyer in NYC Need For My Case?

During the course of litigating a case involving an elevator accident, there are multiple documents and other items that lawyers must obtain:

  1. Any security video from inside the elevator in question.
  2. A copy of the contract with the defendant elevator company pursuant to which they provided maintenance for the elevators at the defendant building.
  3. All work records for the subject elevator for a period of five (5) years prior to the accident.
  4. All documents regarding all 2 year, 5 year and Local Law 10 testing, including a full load testing, done by the elevator company on the elevator in question.
  5. All correspondence between the building owner and the elevator company for a period of five years prior to the date of the accident.
  6. All estimates relating to the elevator from any and all contractors or others.
  7. Inspection reports regarding the subject elevator prepared by the elevator company for five years prior to the date of the accident.
  8. The names of all elevator company employees who inspected the elevator for the five year period prior to the date of the accident.
  9. Repair recommendations and/or proposals with regard to the subject elevator submitted by the elevator company to the owner/managing agent of the building for the five years prior to the date of the accident.
  10. Service reports for the subject elevator prepared by the elevator company for the five year period prior to the date of the accident.
  11. Invoices submitted by the elevator company to the building owner for the 5 year period prior to the date of the accident.
  12. The names of any and all inspection agencies utilized by the elevator company or managing agent/building owner to inspect the elevator in question, together with the names of the companies’ insurance carriers.
  13. A complete copy of all applicable insurance policies and excess insurance policies, including all self–insured retentions and any other form of insurance afforded defendants which was in effect on the date of the accident herein.
  14. The elevator company maintenance log for the elevator involved in the accident.
  15. All records of any upgrades made to the elevator involved in the accident.
  16. All bills, cancelled checks, invoices, and/or other proof of payment for 5 year, 2 year, 1 year and Local Law 10 testing.

Local Law 10/81 inspections and two year tests ended on January 1, 2009. The following inspections and test cycle are now required:

  1. Category 1. Except as otherwise provided by the commissioner, January first through December thirty-first of each year.
  2. Category 3. Except as otherwise provided by the commissioner, within three (3) years from the month of issuance of a final certificate for a new elevator or within three (3) years from the month of the most recent category 3 periodic inspection and test performed on an existing elevator.
  3. Category 5. Except as otherwise provided by the commissioner, within five (5) years from the month of issuance of a final certificate for a new elevator or within five (5) years from the month of the most recent category 5 periodic inspection and test performed on an existing elevator.

These documents must now also be obtained. Read the Notice of Adoption of Rule.

It is also important to note that many elevator accidents occur on construction sites when workers are traveling from floor to floor using manually–operated hoists. Special laws have been enacted in New York to protect workers in those situations and the owners and contractors on the construction site may be responsible for an elevator accident under some circumstances. If you were hurt in an elevator accident on a jobsite, it's important that you speak with an experienced NYC construction accident lawyer.

Types of Elevator Accident Cases

Some of the types of elevator accident cases we have handled for our clients involve:

  • Mis–leveling
  • Door entrapment
  • Car entrapment
  • Sudden acceleration
  • Sudden deceleration
  • Overspeed conditions
  • Defective governors
  • Improper hoist cable maintenance
  • Interlock circuit bypass
  • Communication failure
  • Safety device failure

Additionally, millions of people ride escalators to transport them from floor to floor inside department stores, subways, train stations and other places. The majority of escalator accidents are caused by the improper servicing or installation of the escalator equipment which could have been detected by the performance of proper inspection, servicing and maintenance.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of people injured while riding an escalator are young children. Special precautions and laws were enacted to help prevent young children from being inured on an escalator. Unfortunately, many of these safety devices are either not installed, or installed improperly, or are inadequately maintained.

Similar rules apply for both escalators and elevators. The company that services, maintains, and inspects the elevator or escalator has a duty to ensure that it is operating properly and is free of conditions that might pose a hazard to persons using the elevator or escalator. Such companies can be held liable for injuries resulting from its negligence in inspecting, maintaining, and servicing the elevator or escalator. If the owner or operator fails to have the elevator or escalator regularly for dangerous condition, it can be held liable for injuries to or death of persons using the elevator or escalator.

Cases of Note
  • $12,500,000 for a parking garage employee who was standing on a man lift and was crushed to death.
  • $10,000,000 for a construction worker who fell in an unprotected elevator shaft
  • $7,000,000 settlement on behalf of five people who suffered leg injuries in an elevator accident caused by negligent maintenance of the elevator support cable.
  • $3,975,000 settlement in action where the 27-year old plaintiff fell down an elevator shaft when the doors opened and the elevator was not there. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries requiring an above-the-knee amputation of one of her legs. This case is noteworthy because there was only $2,000,000 in insurance and the building owners paid the remainder out of their own pocket. It was also alleged by the defendants that all tenants in the building were aware that the elevator was not operational.
  • $1,725,000 recovery for a passenger in an elevator which came to a sudden stop causing her to sustain severe injuries to her left ankle requiring surgery.
  • $1,010,000 settlement for the victim of an elevator accident that was not properly maintained

Our New York Elevator Accident Lawyers Have More than 90 Year of Experience Representing Victims of Elevator and Escalator Accidents

The NYC elevator accident attorneys at Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf advocate for our clients' full financial recovery through detailed, meticulous preparation for trial. If you have suffered a serious personal injury or a loved one died as a result of an elevator or escalator accident, please contact our firm to discuss your case.

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