Major elevator accidents are comparatively rare occurrences, but they are often quite serious when they do happen. Construction and elevator workers are most at risk, but any passenger can be injured while using an elevator, escalator, or wheelchair lift. If you were injured in an elevator accident, call an elevator accident lawyer in Pittsburgh at Berger and Green for information about how you can pursue compensation for your harms: 412-661-1400.
What are some common types of elevator accidents?
The elevator industry is highly regulated and most elevators have various built-in, foolproof safety features. There are numerous federal and state safety standards that elevator manufacturers, installers, and repair persons must adhere to, and all elevators must pass annual inspections. Even still, accidents can and do still occur.
Some of the most types of elevator accidents for which victims file claims include:
- Getting struck by the elevator door
- Abrupt stops that cause passengers to suffer compression fractures or fall injuries
- Acts of violence in an elevator
- Falls down the shaft
- Mid-leveling accidents (where the elevator stops in-between floors)
- Electric shocks
In rare cases, the elevator suspension system may fail, causing the elevator to freefall. Cases of this nature, which usually occur in less regulated parts of the world, usually cause severe and fatal injuries.
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What causes elevator accidents to occur?
Most elevator accidents are not really “accidents” per se; they can be traced back to a root cause. Typical causes include:
- Failure to adhere to safety standards
- Shoddy inspections
- Defective components
- Improper installation
- Lack of maintenance
- Improper wiring
- Fluctuations in temperature, moisture, and voltage
- Old units with antiquated parts (like swing-type doors) in need of repair or modernization
- Improperly adjusted controls, such as door closing force or speed
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What injuries do people typically sustain in elevator accidents?
The injuries that people sustain in elevator accidents vary widely. They depend upon the circumstances of the accident, and oftentimes they are devastating.
For example, in a recent elevator accident at Philadelphia’s main courthouse, passenger Sgt. Paul Owens was critically injured when the elevator malfunctioned and went flying upwards into a maintenance room. He suffered spinal cord injuries and was paralyzed from the waist down, experienced complications, and was put into an induced coma, according to WPVI-TV Philadelphia.
Injuries that victims may suffer in elevator accidents include:
- Lacerations and bruises
- Crushed limbs or amputations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Head injuries and brain damage
- Broken bones
- Electric shock injuries
Who is liable for elevator accident-related damages?
The party whose negligence caused or contributed to an elevator accident may be liable for victims’ damages. Negligence can come in many forms. For instance, an installation company may have put an incompetent employee on the job, or a building manager may have cut corners and skipped inspections one year.
Potential liable parties (defendants) include:
- Elevator installation, repair, or maintenance companies
- The elevator inspector
- Elevator parts manufacturer
- The building’s owner
- An employer
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How do I prove that I am entitled to compensation?
In order to prove that the responsible party (defendant) should be legally responsible for paying your damages, you will need to establish four basic elements:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care.
- That party acted in a way that breached that duty.
- The defendant’s negligence is what caused the accident/your injuries.
- You sustained actual damages resulting from the accident.
You will need to be able to present evidence to support your case. Evidence might include the maintenance logs, inspection reports, eyewitness testimonies, testimonies from industry experts, video surveillance in elevator cams, etc.
A Berger and Green elevator accident attorney can help you identify the key pieces of evidence you need to justify your claim and then set to work on gathering the documents and records.
What kinds of damages can I collect after an elevator accident?
Elevator accident tort claims enable you to recover both monetary and non-monetary losses associated with your accident.
Monetary losses include things like medical bills, assistive devices, prosthetics, prescriptions, lost wages, loss of promotion, loss of benefits, etc. You can even recover large miscellaneous expenses such as the cost of renovating your home to accommodate your disability and the cost of hiring help for household tasks you normally would have performed.
Non-monetary losses are all the emotional, harder-to-quantify losses you have experienced. These can include things such as post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and suffering, mental and physical anguish, the effect your injury on your marriage and social relationships, and lost qualify of life.
While not applicable in all cases, if the defendant in your case was grossly negligent or the misconduct was wanton, the courts may award you additional punitive damages. These pecuniary damages are meant to punish the defendant and discourage dangerous behavior in the future.
Your attorney will be able to determine whether or not this might apply to your case.
It is important to have a legal professional help you thoroughly assess your damages and calculate the full value of your claim. You want to make sure you have accounted for all of your future needs when demanding compensation because once you settle the case, you cannot go back and ask for additional money later if your condition worsens and you need more medical care.
Can Berger and Green help me with my elevator accident case?
Our attorneys at Berger and Green are dedicated to serving injured people in Pittsburgh, advocating for justice on their behalf, and helping them provide for their future needs while they recover. We accept all types of elevator accidents, including those involving manual elevators, automatic elevators, dumbwaiters, lifts, and escalators.
Our team has decades of experience helping injured victims and their families get the compensation they deserve when they are hurt by others’ negligence. We know the intricacies of Pennsylvania personal injury laws, elevator regulations and violations, and how to maximize our clients’ recovery. Check out some of our recent settlements and verdicts.
Contact our office today and schedule a free one-on-one consultation with an elevator accident lawyer in Pittsburgh: 412-661-1400.