Automatic doors are found almost everywhere today. Airports, shopping malls, office buildings, and grocery stores all use automatic doors because of the convenience they offer to customers and patrons. These doors operate almost constantly everyday, and often develop problems which cause them to malfunction. When an automatic door malfunctions and causes injuries, the business owner or property owner may be liable.
One of the most common type of personal injury lawsuits are door injuries which was caused by an automatic pedestrian door that was malfunctioning at the time the plaintiff was injured. These can be from electric grocery store sliding doors, revolving hotel doors, or even garage doors.
Liability of business owners for malfunctions of automatic doors is usually founded upon negligence and premises liability. For example, one person injured in an automatic door was able to recover from the business owner for negligence when the automatic door closed unexpectedly due to a defective mechanism. In another case, a hospital visitor was injured when an automatic door struck her while closing. The visitor was able to recover when she showed numerous reports of other incidents where the automatic doors had struck people.
Injuries can also occur when automatic doors open too quickly. An airport passenger who was injured when he came into contact with a glass automatic door which did not open was able to recover for his injuries, despite the fact that the doors had been inspected before and after the accident and were found to be working properly.
A building owner is liable for its negligent maintenance of an automatic door which causes it to strike a person passing through the door. However,the liability of landowners or possessors vary depending on the classification of the victim and what the victim’s status is while on the property. Generally visitors fall into these categories:
- Invitee: An invitee is a person who has come on to the landowner’s premises as a paying customer or for the benefit of the landowner. Invitees are owed the highest standard of care and the landowner must take all reasonable steps to make premises safe by warning the invitees of all dangerous conditions on the property that is known to the landowner and all the unknown dangerous conditions that could have been revealed to landowner through an inspection.
- Licensee: A licensee is an individual who enters the premises for non-business or commercial purposes and the benefit of their own. This includes a social guest or friend. The landowner must repair or warn of all dangerous conditions on premises that is not obvious and apparent to the licensee, but known to the landowner. There is no duty to inspect.
The most common types of victims are invitees who enter commercial or business premises and become injured by a malfunctioning automatic door. Since these doors being defecting is not obvious to the invitees and are either known to be malfunctioning to the landowner or could have been known through an inspection, the landowner owes these invitees a duty to make safe and would be liable if the invitee was hurt from the door malfunction.
If you have been injured by an automatic door, a personal injury attorney can help. Proving your case can be difficult, but an attorney can explain the law and help protect your rights so that you can collect damages for your injuries.