With hundreds of thousands of elevators throughout the United States, many people use them every single day. Elevators are a quick and convenient form of transportation within a building. However, Chicago elevator accident lawyers know that with such frequent use comes the potential for accidents and injuries.
We take elevators for granted, but malfunctions can happen any time you step into an elevator.
When elevator equipment is not properly maintained or operated safely, serious accidents can occur. If you sustain serious injuries in an elevator accident, you may recover monetary compensation for your injuries.
Table of Contents
- Common Causes of Elevator Accidents
- Common Types of Injuries in Elevator Accidents
- Who Is Responsible for Elevator Accidents?
- How to Prove an Elevator Accident Premises Liability Case?
- The Challenges of Handling an Elevator Accident Case
- Financial Compensation After an Elevator Accident
- Contact a Chicago Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
- Client Testimonial
People get injured while riding elevators more often than you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elevator and escalator incidents cause approximately 30 deaths and 17,000 injuries each year across the United States.
Elevator accidents occur when elevators are not properly maintained, or their parts and components are defective.
In either case, one or more of the following can occur:
- Elevator drop. The elevator car can drop suddenly, throwing passengers around inside the elevator and causing severe injuries, especially if the drop occurred from an extreme height. These accidents usually occur as a result of mechanical failure.
- Improper leveling. An elevator car can stop above or below the floor where it is supposed to stop. Improper leveling accidents occur when the elevator is not in perfect alignment with the intended landing. As a result, passengers may trip and fall when trying to exit or enter the elevator.
- No retraction upon contact. The elevator doors may fail to retract upon contact. The elevator doors may close too quickly, trapping a person (or their clothing) or crushing a limb or appendage. This can also happen when the elevator’s safety features do not function properly.
- Falling accidents. These accidents occur as people enter or exit an elevator. This is especially common among the elderly and others who require special assistance. If the elevator does not stop correctly, it may create a dangerous, uneven ledge. This can cause elevator passengers to trip and fall, injuring themselves.
- Falls into the elevator shaft. Per safety standards, the elevator’s doors must stay closed until the elevator comes in perfect alignment with the floor. However, mechanical failure may cause the doors to open when the elevator is stuck at the bottom or top. A passenger may fall into the elevator shaft, especially if there is poor lighting.
- Sudden stop. The elevator may come to a sudden stop due to mechanical malfunction or a loss of power in the building. An abrupt stop can cause passengers to fall to the floor or sustain injuries after being thrown into the elevator’s door or walls.
- Being trapped in closed doors. It is not uncommon for the doors to close on the passenger’s body while the passenger is entering or exiting the elevator. Many of these accidents occur due to malfunctioning door sensors. As a result, doors may cause crush injuries or lead to a loss of a limb.
- Faulty wiring. Faulty wiring may lead to electrocution accidents when pressing buttons in the elevator.
Millions of Americans use elevators every day without thinking that they may injure them. While elevator accidents are rare, it does not mean that you will never be injured while using an elevator in your lifetime. Unfortunately, many elevators across the country are not properly maintained, serviced, and installed, which creates a risk of accidents.
Depending on the circumstances of the elevator accident, injuries suffered by passengers can range from minor to severe.
While the type and severity of injury depend on what caused the accident, some of the most common types of injuries associated with these accidents include:
- Head trauma, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Loss of a limb
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
Regardless of the type of your injury, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention to document the injury and begin the treatment as soon as possible. It is also important to notify the building owner or manager of the accident. Then, consider contacting a Chicago elevator accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Liability for an elevator accident depends on the specific facts surrounding the accident.
Depending on what caused the accident, the following parties may be held responsible for injuries suffered by passengers while riding an elevator:
- The property owner or occupier. If the building has an elevator for public use, the owner or occupier of the property must make sure that the elevator is maintained in a safe condition. Failure to inspect and maintain the elevator in a safe condition or warn guests of dangerous conditions can make the property owner/occupier liable for any resulting accidents and injuries.
- Maintenance companies. Typically, property owners hire maintenance companies to conduct regular inspections of elevators on their premises and, if necessary, make repairs. However, if the maintenance company fails to spot a mechanical failure or fails to properly repair it, the company can be responsible for the resulting elevator accidents.
- Manufacturer of the elevator or its parts. Some elevator accidents occur because of manufacturing or design defects. If you and your lawyer can prove that a defective elevator or its parts caused the accident, you can recover compensation from the manufacturer, seller, and other parties in the chain of distribution.
A thorough investigation conducted by an experienced elevator accident lawyer will help you understand what caused the accident and who can be held responsible for your injuries and losses.
To prove negligence in an elevator premises liability case, the accident victim must show that the building owner, elevator manufacturer, elevator installer, or maintenance company owed a duty of care.
The accident victim must also show that one or more of these individuals or entities violated the applicable duty of care. Lastly, the elevator accident victim must show that this violation directly resulted in all of the injuries and damages about which he or she complains.
Thus, a successful elevator accident premises liability case involves four criteria:
- Duty of care. The liable party (often the building owner or elevator manufacturer) was responsible for manufacturing/operating the elevator in a safe manner.
- Breach. The liable party breached the duty of care due to negligence.
- Causation. The liable party’s negligence was responsible for the accident, causing the victim’s injury.
- Damages. The victim suffered damages as a result of the liable party’s breach of duty.
In some cases, an elevator accident attorney in Chicago may argue the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. This means the accident would not take place without negligence.
To show a res ipsa case, the plaintiff must demonstrate:
- The accident would not occur in the absence of negligence
- The elevator is under the control or management of the defendant
- There is no indication the accident was due to any actions of the plaintiff
The accident victim must also suffer harm that is directly attributable to the property owner’s negligence. A Chicago premises liability attorney can help you prove liability and damages in your elevator accident case.
Being involved in an elevator accident can be a scary and stressful experience. Even though the worst is behind you, you may still encounter many challenges when handling your legal claim and fighting for the compensation you deserve.
On top of struggling with the pain, you may be facing mounting medical bills and may be out of work while undergoing treatment. However, you need the money to pay for the ongoing treatment to recover faster. Fortunately, you may seek compensation for your injuries suffered in the elevator accident.
However, even though you have a right to compensation, obtaining that compensation can be difficult. For this reason, you might want to consider hiring a Chicago elevator accident lawyer to help you with your legal case and pursue the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
Your lawyer will handle the legal aspects of the claims process while you focus on your physical recovery. When fighting for compensation after an elevator accident, you may have to jump through many hoops.
Some of the challenges that you may encounter when trying to recover damages include:
- Liability. It may not be immediately clear who is responsible for the elevator accident. A comprehensive and in-depth investigation is often necessary to determine what caused the elevator to malfunction and who can be held liable for your injuries.
- Legal options. You may not understand your legal options. Depending on who is responsible for causing the elevator accident, you may need to pursue a premises liability or product liability claim. If your loved one died, you might have to file a wrongful death claim.
- Insurance companies. Dealing with insurance companies can be extremely frustrating. Insurers are not looking out for your best interests. Their primary goal is to pay you as little as possible or deny coverage altogether.
- Fault. A property owner may argue that you were responsible for the accident (e.g., by jumping in the elevator while it is in motion) in an attempt to avoid liability.
- Compensation. You may not know how much your claim is worth. Consider working with a skilled lawyer to examine the facts of your elevator accident and evaluate a fair settlement amount in your specific case.
Having representation from our Chicago elevator accident lawyers can make a major difference in the outcome of your legal case. Your lawyer will handle the legal aspects of your claim so that you do not have to deal with the challenges that may arise along the way, allowing you to focus on your treatment.
One of the most common questions that injured passengers have following an elevator accident is, “What compensation can I recover?” The accident may leave the injured passenger with mounting medical bills and the inability to work, not to mention the pain and suffering and other effects and losses.
However, each elevator accident case is unique, which is why the compensation you can seek depends on the facts of your accident, the severity of your injuries, the costs you have incurred, and other factors.
Depending on your case, financial compensation after an elevator accident may include the following compensatory damages:
- The cost of medical treatment, physical therapy, and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished earning capacity
Consider speaking with an experienced elevator accident lawyer to examine the facts of your case and help you determine how much your case is worth.
Consider contacting a Chicago elevator accident lawyer if you or someone you love were injured while riding or attempting to enter or exit an elevator. Lawyers are familiar with applicable safety standards and laws surrounding elevators and can help you identify liable parties and fight for the compensation you deserve.
A skilled lawyer will address any complexities and challenges that may arise when handling your elevator or escalator accident case.
When you work with an experienced lawyer, he will assist you with:
- Reviewing and gathering evidence related to the elevator accident
- Identifying liable parties
- Handling paperwork associated with your legal claim
- Advising you on your legal options throughout the claims process
- Communicating with insurance companies and their representatives on your behalf
- Fighting for the highest possible settlement for your damages and losses
- Filing a lawsuit if doing so is necessary to recover maximum compensation
With the right Chicago elevator accident lawyer on your side, you are more likely to achieve the most favorable outcome in your case. A lawyer will fight tirelessly on your behalf and advocate for justice and fair compensation in your case.
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