An elevator is classified as a car or cage installed in a building that is used for the vertical transportation of persons and property. There are three general types of elevators:
- Manual: Elevators operated by an attendant who takes directions from the passenger
- Automatic: Elevators operated by passengers without the use of an attendant
- Escalators: While not technically elevators, these electronically-powered staircases are similar to elevators and will typically involved the same liability issues.
- How Does Someone Recover for a Personal Injury from an Accident Involving the Use of an Elevator?
- What If It Is Unclear Which Party’s Negligence Caused the Injury?
- Who May Potentially Be Liable For Elevator Accidents?
- What Are The Most Common Types Of Elevator Accident Claims?
- Should I Contact A Personal Injury Attorney About My Elevator Injury?
Typically, elevator accidents occur because of negligence on the part of the party responsible for the accident. While the party that is potentially liable will vary depending on the type of accident, a party generally must still prove the elements that are typical in a "prima facie" case of negligence. These elements are:
- The negligent party owed the injured party a duty of care
- The negligent party breached this duty
- The negligent party’s breach was the cause of the personal injury
It is possible not to know who caused the accident or the full extent of the responsible party’s negligent action. Consequently, the law facilitates these types of situations. The injured party can attempt to establish that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor, which requires the allegedly responsible party to show that they were not negligent in some way. By contrast, all the injured party need show is they were injured in an elevator by no fault of their own.
Determining who is liable for an elevator accident depends on the nature of the accident. Individuals that may be liable for elevator accidents include:
- The owner of the building in which the elevator is located
- Any elevator maintenance company hired to inspect or repair the elevator
- Installation companies
- Attendants responsible for operating a manual operator
- Elevator doors unexpectedly slam shut on someone
- Sudden elevator movements or "free-falls" that cause injuries
- Person falls down an open elevator shaft that was not readily visible
- Elevator gets stuck between floors for a significant period of time
- Defects in the design or manufacture of the elevator or its doors
If you have been injured while riding in or getting out of an elevator, you should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can help determine the strength and viability of your case, and help you get properly compensated for your injuries.