New York City historically has a higher incidence of elevator related injuries and deaths than the rest of the country. At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool And The Law Office Of William A. Gallina, LLP, our elevator accident lawyers in NYC handle elevator accident cases that 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 Do Elevators Operate?
There are 2 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. A non-compressible fluid is pumped into a cylinder to raise a piston, which raises 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.
What Are Some Common Causes Of Elevator Accidents?
Elevator injuries are typically caused by misleveling, the doors closing on a passenger or the elevator making an abrupt stop. Additionally, there is a risk of an open shaft fall due to the doors opening when the cart is not at the stop, electrocution due to faulty wiring or entrapment due to heat from fire or water from emergency sprinklers.
Misleveling: Misleveling is when the elevator does not stop at an equal height to the building floor. This can create a ledge of inches, or even feet, which is a tripping hazard while exiting or 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 premises liability case.
Elevator Door Injuries: Injuries from elevator doors can occur from the elevator door closing too quickly, catching a passenger or an article of clothing. These door strike cases occur when there is negligent maintenance of the sensors that reopen the elevator doors if the edges hit an object, or negligent maintenance of the sensors that detect when there is something in the path of the door.
Sudden Stops: Injuries from sudden stops occur when a passenger hits the floor or walls of the elevator cart due to a 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 exact cause of the malfunction. Our elevator accident lawyers in NYC 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.
How Often Should NYC Elevators Be Inspected?
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. These inspections must be done by an approved elevator inspection agency and witnessing agency. Any defects found during a Category 1 inspection must be fixed within 120 days (except hazardous issues, which must be fixed immediately). Failure to complete these inspections within the specified time frame, as well as 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 the 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.