Using elevators and escalators is a fact of life for anyone who lives and works in the New York City area. We count on these modern conveniences almost without thought. But like any mechanical device, an elevator or escalator can malfunction and injure its users.
The premises liability lawyers of Cohen & Jaffe LLP can help after an elevator or escalator accident on Long Island or in New York City. Review the materials below for answers to frequently asked questions. For information about your specific situation, contact us now for a free consultation.
The owner of the building where you were hurt as well as the company that maintains the elevator or escalator you were on when you had your accident may be responsible for your injuries and other losses. You may be able to hold them liable through a personal injury claim under premises liability law.
It may be that the escalator or elevator was faulty from the start, either in its design or the way it was assembled and installed. You may be able to hold the manufacturer accountable in such a case through a product liability claim.
Under New York law, building owners have a legal duty to ensure their premises are reasonably safe for visitors or to warn of existing hazards. This includes maintaining equipment such as elevators and escalators on a routine basis or in a timely manner if an unexpected failure occurs. If there is a problem that makes an elevator or escalator unsafe, the property owner should shut it down and post a warning or “out of order” sign.
Usually an elevator or escalator is maintained by an outside company rather than building maintenance personnel. Whether such a company has liability for the failure of an elevator or escalator will depend on the relationship between the company and the building’s operations. If the contractor is exclusively responsible for maintenance and repair of the elevator or escalator, it can probably be held responsible for an operational failure. But, if the contractor can show that a building crew or another company worked on the device in question, the contractor will likely argue that it is not responsible for the malfunction.
Through a personal injury lawsuit, you could obtain damages (compensation) for medical expenses connected to your accident, lost income due to your injuries and other monetary losses, as well as for your pain and suffering. But, you will need an experienced premises liability lawyer to investigate your accident to determine potential liabilities and pursue a lawsuit on your behalf.
People are frequently hurt in elevators when a malfunction causes the elevator or parts of the elevator mechanism to move, stop or fall unexpectedly or abruptly. An elevator is likely to malfunction because of incomplete maintenance or repairs, or because of inspections by unqualified or negligent personnel.
One organization, Consumer Watch, says among the defects or malfunctions that can occur on an elevator are:
Another common situation is elevator door malfunctions, in which doors close on a person and cause a crushing injury to a limb or head, or close and trap clothing or a limb and cause a tearing injury as the elevator moves.
Elevators should not malfunction in a manner that causes injury. If you have been injured on an elevator in New York because of a problem with how the elevator operated, you should discuss our injury with one of our premises liability lawyers. You may be able to obtain compensation for losses associated with your injury.
Injuries sustained on an escalator usually occur in falls or from entanglement in some portion of the escalator. Escalator accidents are often made worse because the escalator is steep, which exacerbates a fall, and because it continues to move and the stair treads are hard surfaces.
Consumer Watch organization lists typical escalator malfunctions as:
Entrapment by components of an escalator can cause injuries that range from cuts and bruises to dislocations, fractures and amputations. A slip-and-fall accident on an escalator can result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) if the fall victim hits his or her head, broken bones – such as a hip fracture in an elderly fall victim – or other injuries, such as cuts, bruises, sprains and strains.
Escalators should be maintained so that they do not malfunction in a manner that causes injury. If you have been injured on an escalator in New York, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical expenses and other losses associated with your injury. If you were hurt because of a problem with how the escalator operated, you should discuss your injury with one of our premises liability attorneys.
It is quite likely that lawyers for the defendants in a claim over your escalator accident would argue that your alcohol consumption caused or contributed to your injury. In New York, personal injury law considers “comparative” negligence, which means your role in the accident will be considered in determining how much compensation you are due. But you should talk to an attorney before giving up on a claim.
There are several questions that would have to be answered in regard to a claim for your escalator accident.
First, did an identifiable malfunction or defect in the escalator’s operation cause your accident? A sudden stoppage might be documented by security camera video, or an unsafe gap between the moving steps and the escalator sides would be measurable if we could get to it before repairs were made.
Secondly, the defense would have to argue the effect of your alcohol consumption. Drinks you bought with a restaurant meal could be documented through receipts, but without a blood-alcohol content (BAC) test of some sort, there would be no reliable measure of intoxication. The fact that you ate a meal would weigh in your favor, since food slows alcohol absorption. The time between when you finished your drinks and when you were on the escalator would also be a factor in arguing your potential intoxication.
In general, if a jury determined that your actions – drinking – contributed to your accident, it would then have to decide what percentage of the blame you shared, and your compensation would be reduced accordingly. If you were assigned 20 percent of the comparative negligence, for example, you would be entitled to $8,000 of a $10,000 award. If you were assigned 51 percent of the blame, you could receive no award.
Remember, an initial consultation with a Cohen & Jaffe premises liability lawyer is always free. Contact us today to set up a meeting to review your accident and begin the work to answer the questions about pursuing a claim for you.
Each case is different, but you may be able to obtain compensation for expenses such as medical bills, replacing damaged property (clothing and jewelry) and for lost income, as well as for pain and suffering. It is not possible to say how much you could obtain, but our goal in every case is to pursue compensation from all liable parties to ensure your financial recovery from your accident.
In general the compensation sought in a personal injury lawsuit would include but not necessarily be limited to:
We would work to calculate all of your compensable losses, with an emphasis on analyzing your medical records to determine the extent of your injuries and your expected recovery. We work with medical consultants and, in some cases, life-care planning experts to project long-term needs of disabled clients.
Read more about how compensation in a legal claim is related the type of injury suffered.
If you have not contacted an attorney, we suggest contacting one with experience in New York elevator or escalator cases right away. There are several steps to take and actions to avoid to protect your rights after a serious elevator or escalator accident. A Cohen & Jaffe lawyer would be happy to help you.
In addition to setting up a free initial legal consultation about our case, you can help yourself by:
Once you contact Cohen & Jaffe, we can advise you about a potential claim and you can refer any questions you receive to “your attorney.” Call Cohen & Jaffe at 866-895-0420 for a free consultation, or fill out our online form and we will respond immediately. If you are injured, we can come to you.