In the city famous for its tall buildings and legendary skyline, it likely will not surprise you to learn that New York has over 70,000 elevators. You probably ride in at least one of them several times each day. Thankfully, the vast majority of these elevators function smoothly and reliably, providing safe passenger rides to and from residences, offices, restaurants, etc. thousands of feet above the ground. Nevertheless, when an elevator accident happens, the results can be catastrophic. Nationwide, approximately 30 people lose their lives each year in an elevator accident and more than 10,200 people receive injuries.
Roughly half of all elevator fatalities among members of the public occur when someone falls into and down the elevator shaft. The other 50 percent occur due to the following:
- You get caught in the elevator’s moving parts.
- You get caught between the car and the shaft wall.
- You get thrown when the elevator suddenly stops, lurches or lands.
- You become trapped in the door when it fails to open sufficiently.
If you work in construction or as an elevator maintenance person, your risk of death from falling into an elevator shaft increases substantially. In fact, half of all fatalities for workers like you occur this way. Of these, 53 percent of the falls occur while installing or repairing an elevator, 30 percent occur while working immediately adjacent to one, and 17 percent occur while working on the car or its shaft.
Elevators malfunction for a wide variety of reasons, including the following:
- Misalignment with the floor
- Doors opening when the car is not there, leaving the shaft open
- Frayed or otherwise defective wiring pertaining to the elevator’s control functions
- Failure of the mechanical pulley system that causes the elevator to drop rapidly
- Improper sprinkler functionality during a fire, resulting in damage to the elevator’s overall wiring
- Improper or inadequate inspections and/or repairs and maintenance
New York property owners have a duty to properly install their elevators and maintain them in good working order so as to provide you safe rides. Manufacturers of elevators and of their component parts likewise have a duty to produce and sell safe products. If you suffer an elevator injury or if one of your loved ones dies in an elevator accident, you can sue the responsible person and/or company. Admittedly, no amount of money can make up for your pain and suffering or the lost life of your loved one, but such suits can at least compensate you for your financial damages and give you a sense of justice.