Owner Liability for Elevator and Escalator Malfunction

Posted on May 25, 2011 at 6:40pm by

In December 2007, an escalator malfunction injured seven people at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford. The bottom steps bent, causing fans to sustain foot and leg injuries. In April 2008, several people were hurt when an elevator malfunctioned at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City.

Elevators and escalators allow us to navigate between floors of a building with ease and can be found in hospitals, shopping malls, schools, hotels, residential buildings, office buildings, airports and other private or public locations. Many people use these machines without ever stopping to think about the potential for passenger harm. However, escalators and elevators can and do malfunction, more often than most people may like to think, sometimes resulting in serious injuries. An owner of a building is subject to premises liability law, meaning the owner can be held responsible for certain injuries suffered by persons on the premises, including injuries sustained while using an elevator or escalator.

The Center for Construction Research and Training cites that in 2001, there were 6,000 emergency room injuries associated with escalators, and according to ConsumerWatch.com, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 27 people are killed and 10,200 people injured in elevator accidents every year. Given that, according to ConsumerWatch.com, there are an estimated 900,000 elevators in the United States, each serving an average of 20,000 people per year, accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Owner Liability

As with all machinery, elevators and escalators require routine maintenance, especially those located in high-traffic areas. When a malfunction occurs because a property owner has failed to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of people using the elevator or escalator facilities, such as not performing routine maintenance or repairs, an Atlantic City injury lawyer can help victims hold the property owner accountable.

When an owner fails to keep up with regular maintenance, elevator and escalator accidents are more likely to happen and can result in passengers becoming trapped in an elevator, oxygen being cut off from an elevator, injuries occurring to passengers’ feet and legs, or passengers falling from an escalator. Lack of proper maintenance or repair can cause:

  • Loose escalator steps
  • Jammed or malfunctioning elevator doors
  • Improper leveling of elevators
  • Floor and step hazards
  • Strained elevator cables or broken elevator brakes

All of the above can lead to passenger injury or death, and all of the above can be prevented when an owner is diligent about performing routine maintenance and obtaining necessary repairs quickly.

If you or a loved one was injured while riding an escalator or elevator, contact an experienced Atlantic City injury attorney to learn about your legal rights under premises liability law and evaluate whether you may be entitled to compensation.