At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, our escalator accident lawyers handle escalator accident cases which result in serious injury or death to passengers, building employees, custodial staff, emergency safety workers and escalator maintenance and inspection personnel. We have the resources and experience necessary to secure fair compensation for individuals who have suffered an unnecessary injury. Our escalator accident attorneys can prove falls caused by the product through our cutting edge investigation and visual representation techniques at trial.How Escalators Work
Escalators are a surprisingly simple piece of equipment. They operate similar to a conveyor belt, but with steps instead of a flat belt surface. 1 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 two 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 hand rails 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 elevator where the steps flatten out includes a combplate that matches the grooves to prevent spacing between the step and the building floor. 2 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 the machines, a malfunction can be highly indicative of negligence.Common Escalator Accidents
Similar to a staircase, moving up or down on an escalator has 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 combplate. Escalators are now required to have guard brushes, emergency stop buttons, and some 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 hand rails, or misleveling of the steps or combplate. 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 from "falls on", or "falls from" the machine. 3 "Falls from" 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 previously mentioned misleveling. Misleveling should not occur when a proper inspection schedule is followed. Misleveling can occur through damage to the steps, or 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, and 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. 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 Escalator, you may have a case for negligence against the managing agent of the building or the maintenance company for the escalator. 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.
Escalators in New York City must follow set guidelines in the manner and timing of their inspections. These include a Category 1 test each year, and a Category 5 test every 5 years. 4 These inspections must be done by an approved inspection agency and witnessing agency.Any defects found during a Category 1 inspection must be fixed within (120) days of finding, and 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.Escalator 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.
- How Escalators Work - HowStuffWorks
- Huerta v. New York City Transit Authority, 290 A.D.2d 33, 35 (1st Dep't, 2001)
- Escalator injuries and deaths rise and why lawyers may be overlooking - American Association for Justice
- New York City, N.Y., Code § 27-998
- New York City, N.Y., Rules, Tit. 1, § 103-02