New York Elevator Accident Attorneys
At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, our elevator accident lawyers
handle elevator accident cases which result in serious injury or death
to passengers, building employees, custodial staff, emergency safety workers
and elevator maintenance and inspection personnel. We have the resources
and experience necessary to secure fair compensation for individuals who
have suffered an unnecessary injury.
How Elevators Work
There are two types of elevators that are used in common passenger travel.
These include hydraulic elevators and cable elevators.
Hydraulic elevators are not commonly seen in buildings more than a few
stories tall due to the need to position the mechanics farther underground
for each story the elevator will need to be raised.1 A non-compressible fluid is pump into a cylinder to raise a piston, and
thus raise the elevator car. These elevators are more expensive in their
energy use. They also have less safety equipment than cable elevators.
Cable elevators are the much more common type of elevator in New York.
All of the machinery is in a machine room at the top of the elevator shaft.
The elevator is attached by cable to a sheave in the machine room. The
sheave, which is similar to a pulley, is turned by an electric motor to
raise or lower the elevator. A counterweight is attached to the cable
opposite the side of the elevator car. The counterweight is equal to the
elevator's weight at 40% load. This allows the elevator to be moved
using very little energy, because the counterweight keeps the weight at
the tipping point.
A common misconception is that elevator deaths occur from an elevator falling.
However, in reality, improper maintenance can cause the counterweight
to drop and launch the elevator car upwards. Improper maintenance can
lead to a number of other injuries.
All cable elevators include a governor that controls the maximum speed
of the descent. However, it is possible for the governor to fail due to
improper maintenance. Additionally, they must include a level of shock
absorption at the bottom of the elevator shaft.
Common Elevator Accidents
The common types of elevator injury causes include elevator misleveling,
the doors closing on a passenger, and the elevator falling a distance
and making an abrupt stop.2 Additionally, there is a risk of an open shaft fall due to the doors opening
when the cart is not at the stop, control malfunction or electrocution
due to faulty wiring, or entrapment due to heat from fire or water from
emergency sprinklers.3 About 27 people are killed in elevator accidents each year, according
to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the CPSC. New York City historically
has a higher incidence of elevator related injuries and deaths than the
rest of the country.
Misleveling is when the elevator does not stop at an equal height to the
building floor. This can cause a ledge of inches, or even feet, which
is a tripping hazard during exit, or a fall hazard while entering. A misleveled
stop should not occur when an elevator is maintained properly. Problems
with the leveling mechanics of the elevator can include an error with
the automatic leveling system, opening the doors too early during the
landing approach, brake problems, or incorrect electrical current. Our
experts will determine the cause of the misleveling in order to discover
who is at fault in your injury.
Injuries from elevator doors can occur from the elevator door closing too
quickly, catching a passenger or an article of clothing from a passenger.
These door strike cases occur when there is negligent maintenance of the
sensors that reopen the elevator door if the edges hit an object, or negligent
maintenance of the sensors that detect when there is something in the
path of the door.
Injuries from sudden stops occur when a passenger hits the floor or walls
of the elevator cart due to the sudden deceleration. This can be caused
by a malfunctioning governor, frayed, bunched, or detached cables, electronic
failure, brake failure, or elevator overload. Due to the many possible
causes it can be difficult for an expert to determine the cause of the
malfunction. Our highly qualified experts will find the indicators of
any negligence that led to a malfunction and injury.
Elevators and Hoists must be maintained according to The American Society
of Mechanical Engineers' standards and specifications, ASME A17. Additionally,
New York City has its own regulations set out by New York City, N.Y.,
Code § 27-982 to § 27-1005. If you have been injured due to
improper maintenance of an Elevator, you may have a case for negligence
against the managing agent of the building or the maintenance company
for the elevator. The more a system is automated, the lower the chance
of human error causing an issue, and the greater likelihood of negligence
in maintenance or repair.
Elevators in New York City must follow set guidelines in the manner and
timing of their inspections. These include a Category 1 test each year,
a Category 3 test every 3 years for hydraulic elevators, and a Category
5 test every 5 years.4 These inspections must be done by an approved elevator inspection agency
and witnessing agency.5 Any defects found during a Category 1 inspection must be fixed within
(120) days of finding, except hazardous issues must be fixed immediately.
Failure to complete these inspections within the specified time frame,
and failure to correct issues found during the inspections can result
in a case of negligence against the building manager. Failure to discover
issues during the inspection can lead to negligence on the part of inspecting
agency, or the building manager.
Elevators by design and installation must include certain safety features
in New York City. These include a fire resistance of greater than one
and a half hours, impact resistance, and if the inside is not fully visible,
a mirror to allow a passenger to see the inside before getting in. Additionally,
all Elevators installed must include a Governor or Otis system, as well
as some form of impact buffer at the bottom of the shaft. However, failure
of these systems is possible due to negligent inspection or maintenance.6
Elevator Accident Compensation
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in an elevator accident,
you may be entitled to compensation. For a
free consultation with our New York personal injury attorneys, please call (212) 406-1700 or
contact us online. Our cases are taken on a contingency-fee basis. If we accept your
case, there is no fee unless we recover damages for you.
Information about how elevators work is from:
2.Kevin D. Caton, J.D., 127 Am. Jur. Trials 1 (Originally published in 2012)
4.New York City, N.Y., Code § 27-998
5.New York City, N.Y., Rules, Tit. 1, § 103-02
6.New York City, N.Y., Code § 27-987