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Elevator And Escalator Accidents
Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs And Kool And The Law Office Of William A. Gallina, LLP

ELEVATOR ACCIDENT LAWYER NYC

Elevator & Escalator Accidents

Our accident lawyers in NYC represent victims of elevator and escalator incidents. Thousands of New York City residents use elevators and escalators each day. These machines have strict regulations and must be inspected to ensure safety. Unfortunately, accidents do happen and can cause serious injuries to unknowing passengers. Sudden stops, improper leveling and entrapment are just some defects that can cause harm to passengers.

In many cases, elevator and escalator accidents are caused by another’s negligence. If you have been injured in such an incident, then you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Our accident lawyers hold manufacturers, inspection agencies and building managers accountable for their negligence.

Elevator Accidents

Elevator Accidents

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.

Elevator Standards

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.

Elevator Safety

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.

Escalator Accidents

Escalator Accidents

Our escalator accident lawyers in NYC handle escalator accident cases that cause serious harm to passengers, employees, custodial staff, safety workers, and maintenance or inspection personnel. Our escalator accident attorneys can prove falls caused by escalators through our cutting-edge investigation and visual representation techniques at trial.

How Do Escalators Operate?

Escalators are a surprisingly simple piece of equipment. They operate similar to a conveyor belt, but with steps instead of a flat belt surface. A motor moves rotating chains that are connected to the top step. The rest of the steps are connected to the top step and pulled along behind it. Each step has 2 wheels underneath that follow a guide track. The steps stay perfectly level and flatten out at the top due to the design of the track. The handrails are attached to wheels that are designed to move precisely at the speed of the steps as a safety feature.

The steps include grooves that allow them to flatten and fit together. The top of the escalator where the steps flatten out includes a comb plate that matches the grooves to prevent spacing between the step and the building floor. The correct maintenance of this plate is important to prevent clothes and other items from being pulled in at the top of the steps. Due to the simplicity of this machine, a malfunction can be highly indicative of negligence.

What Are Some Common Causes Of Escalator Accidents?

Similar to a staircase, moving up or down on an escalator involves an inherent risk of falling. Additionally, there is a risk of clothing or limbs getting caught due to negligently maintained spacing or gaps in the comb plate. Escalators are now required to have guard brushes and emergency stop buttons, while some also have automatic sprinklers. However, if improperly maintained, lint can collect in the gears and create a fire hazard.

A fall on an escalator can be caused by improper speed, a sudden stop, malfunctioning handrails or misleveling of the steps or comb plate. These causes are often due to negligent maintenance. Additionally, it is possible for a slippery condition to form the basis for liability if the premises manager had constructive notice and a chance to correct the hazard.

Most injuries on escalators are caused by "falls on" or "falls from" the machine. These types of accidents also include falls over the side. When a fall is caused by one of the above mentioned malfunctions, an investigation must determine if the malfunction was caused by negligence in maintenance or inspection.

Another hazard on escalators is entrapment. This can be caused by misleveling. Misleveling should not occur when a proper inspection schedule is followed. Misleveling can occur as a result of damage to the steps, or to the tracks that the steps follow.

Additionally, escalators pose a fire hazard. Due to the amount of people who ride them and the nature of the machine, lint can ride the tracks and enter the machinery. If the motor area is filled with combustible objects, it is a clear fire hazard. Escalators must include guard brushes to prevent this. A lack of or improper use of these guard brushes can demonstrate negligence in a fire-related injury.

Escalator Standards

Escalators must be maintained according to The American Society of Mechanical Engineers' standards and specifications, ASME A17. New York City also has its own regulations set out by New York City, N.Y., Code § 27-982 to § 27-1005. Victims of an escalator-related injury may have grounds for a claim against either the building’s managing agent or the escalator maintenance company. Usually, the more automated a machine is, the less likely that the malfunction was caused by human error; in these cases, it is more likely that negligent maintenance or repair is responsible for the incident.

How Often Should NYC Escalators Be Inspected?

All New York City escalators must follow set guidelines regarding the manner and timing of their inspections. These include a Category 1 test each year and a Category 5 test every 5 years. These inspections must be completed by an approved inspection agency and witnessing agency. Any defects found during a Category 1 inspection must be fixed within 120 days. However, if any hazardous issues are found during an inspection, they must be fixed immediately. If escalator inspections are not completed within the required time frame, or if the issues found during an inspection are not corrected, then the building manager may be found negligent. If an inspection fails to discover issues that lead to an injury, then the building manager or the inspecting agency may be found negligent.

Elevator Accident Lawyers

How Do I Schedule A Legal Consultation Regarding An Elevator Or Escalator Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to an elevator or escalator accident, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free consultation with our elevator accident lawyers in NYC, call our Manhattan office at 212.406.1700, our Bronx office at 718.892.0400 or contact us online. We will review your case and discuss your legal options with you. The attorneys at Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool And The Law Office Of William A. Gallina, LLP take all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning our services are free of charge unless there is a monetary recovery. Our law firm is proud to serve the New York City area, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island, as well as the surrounding counties and New Jersey. We offer legal services in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Chinese.

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Queller, Fisher, et. al., LLP
Personal Injury Lawyers Serving NYC

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