ElevatorEscalator accidents are a form of premises liability claim. There are hundreds of thousands of elevators in operation across the United States. The number of escalators in operation is considerably less but still quite numerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated that there are approximately 20,000 elevatorescalator accidents per year in the United States.
In evaluating elevatorescalator accidents the first issue is who is the culpable defendant. The primary defendant typically is going to be the owner of the building where the device is located. Other potential defendants may be the maintenance company that services the equipment and in some instances the manufacturer if the equipment is relatively new.
In suing the maintenance company it is necessary to determine quickly whether or not there is an indemnity agreement between the maintenance company and the building owner. It is not unusual that such a provision exists within the contract between these two companies. Another issue that exists in these types of cases is a determination of whether or not the common law standard of a common carrier applies to these devices. If an elevator or an escalator is deemed to be a common carrier, then the standard of care that is applicable is considerably higher than if the devices are not a common carrier. That is considerably to the benefit of the plaintiff.
In pursuing these types of claims it is necessary, at the very least, to obtain all of the records relating to the device for at least three years before the accident including all records of any accidents, all maintenance records and all records of any “callbacks”. Some states perform governmental inspections of these devices. If that takes place in your particular state, then it is necessary to obtain those records likewise.
Another important aspect of handling a case like this is the actual inspection of the elevator or escalator. This needs to be done with your expert witness. An elevator is simply a vehicle that travels up and down in a shaft. The shaft is called a hoistway. At the bottom of the hoistway there is a pit. It is necessary that the pit, the hoistway and the car itself be thoroughly inspected.
Like any premises liability case these claims are never simple but if thoroughly investigated they can result in a successful outcome for the injured party.
Brien Roche stands ready to assist with your elevator or escalator specific premises liability claim. Mr. Roche has helped many in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. area win claims regarding premises liability.
See elevators for a review of Virginia case law on elevatorescalator accidents
For more information about elevators see the pages on Wikipedia.