In our world of high-rise residential and office buildings, millions of elevator and escalator rides are taken every week. Passengers ride these elevators and escalators with the expectation that they will be safe because reasonable care has been exercised in their inspection, maintenance and repair. Passengers in elevators who suffer serious injuries or even death as the result of an elevator accident may be entitled to compensation for those injuries and their damages from those responsible. Under New York law, when an elevator accident happens, the passengers may hold the building owner responsible for negligence, but may only hold the elevator maintenance company responsible under limited circumstances.
Some common elevator accidents involve a sudden and accelerated drop by the elevator either causing the passenger to fall or hit the interior of the elevator, or suffer a deceleration/acceleration injury to the neck or back; mis-leveling between the elevator car and the floor of the building causing a tripping hazard; building elevator doors improperly opening, allowing a person to fall into a dangerous shaftway; and sudden stops causing a passenger to fall to the floor or otherwise become injured.
Proper and careful preparation and investigation will often discover both the factual and legal grounds for holding the elevator maintenance company responsible. The language contained in the contract between the elevator maintenance company and the owner of the building, as well as the facts of the accident, the history of the particular elevator’s inspection, maintenance and repair, a careful review of the important records concerning the elevator, and when necessary consulting with an appropriate expert are all extremely important steps in evaluating and proving that the elevator maintenance company was not only responsible for the elevator but did not use reasonable care in its inspection, maintenance and repair of the elevator which caused the passenger’s accident and injuries.
An elevator maintenance company which agrees to maintain an elevator in safe operating condition may be liable to a passenger injured in an elevator accident for its failure to correct conditions of which it has knowledge, or failure to use reasonable care to discover and correct a condition which it ought to have found. However, New York courts have limited this duty to situations in which the elevator maintenance company has assumed exclusive control of the elevator involved at and prior to the time of the accident. When an elevator company has exclusive control over the elevator, even in the absence of a contract, an elevator company can be held responsible if it negligently services, maintains or inspects an elevator. Absent exclusive control, the elevator maintenance company may only be held liable if the failure of the elevator maintenance company to use reasonable care either creates or exacerbates an unreasonable risk of harm to others, if the passenger detrimentally relies upon the elevator maintenance company’s contractual obligation, or if the elevator maintenance company comprehensively agrees to assume and displace the owner’s safety-related obligations.
New York and New Jersey law requires periodic inspection, maintenance and repair of most elevators, escalators and moving walkways. Local laws, such as in the City of New York, may also impose additional requirements. For example, owners of elevators are required to have a contract with an approved agent to perform independent inspections on a scheduled basis and report certain conditions. All hazardous defects have to be corrected immediately and all defects have to be corrected within 45 days from the filing of the report. Inspections which reveal a hazardous condition must be taken out of service immediately. http://www.municipalelevatorinspection.com/ny-nj-codes.php
Elevator accident lawyer Philip Monier has successfully obtained compensation from elevator maintenance companies and building owners for victims of elevator accidents. If you have been injured in an elevator accident please contact us for a free consultation and to protect your rights.