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What legal options do I have if I get hurt on an elevator or escalator that malfunctions?

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.

Posted in: Elevator and Escalator Accident FAQs