Elevator and Escalator Accidents Attorneys New York

Elevators and escalators are great inventions which allow people to live and work in multi-story buildings with ease. In the course of a day throughout the five boroughs and the outer lying areas, millions of people are using elevators and/or escalators in office buildings, schools, apartment houses, shopping malls and other commercial establishments as an invaluable mode of transportation to get to and from various locations. People rarely think about any danger or the possibility of an accident involving an elevator or escalator and therefore take for granted the fact that an elevator or escalator should function properly. However, as with many technologies, elevators and escalators are not without their dangers. When something does go wrong involving an elevator or escalator, the consequences can be catastrophic and life changing if you or a loved one becomes a victim of an elevator or escalator accident. The Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. have more than 33 years experience in representing victims or elevator and escalator accidents and we are prepared to prosecute any and all necessary claims on behalf of our clients who have become a victim due to an accident involving an elevator or escalator. These cases require very meticulous and detailed investigation, preparation and knowledge of the various laws surrounding the usage of elevators and escalators. If you or a loved one was the victim of an elevator and/or escalator accident or someone close to you has died due to this type of accident, call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. for a free initial consultation regarding your legal rights to obtain full and fair compensation and damages due to your harms and losses.

Types of Elevator and Escalator Accidents

  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Improper access leading to an open shaft
  • Mis-leveling of an elevator
  • Faulty wiring
  • Pulley system malfunction
  • Improper circuit bypass
  • Improper safety devices which malfunction resulting in sudden acceleration or sudden deceleration
  • Entrapment inside an elevator car
  • Incomplete repairs
  • Incomplete inspections
  • Improper speed regulation
  • Sudden drops

The Duty to Maintain, Operate and Inspect Elevators and Escalators

In New York City, all elevators that are in use must meet certain safety criteria which include, but are not limited to telephone, door locking mechanisms, proper Braille and door protection. These elevators and escalators as well have to be up to code. In fact, the City of New York requires annual certification of an elevator. There are various safety tests which are required by the New York City Department of Buildings that include a governor safety test, full load governor safety test and/or pressure test depending upon the type of elevator. The law requires certain repairs and upgrades be made to elevators to comply with current codes and safety standards.

In fact, all elevators and escalators in New York City must be inspected five times every two years – three times by the Building Department of the City of New York and twice by a private inspection agency. Copies of the inspections must be kept in the elevator or in the building manager’s office.

Although elevators in the United States are statistically very safe, with an average of 27 deaths per year out of 18 billion uses according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, there are still fatal accidents every year. In fact, during December 2011, an advertising executive in New York was killed when the elevator she was entering suddenly began moving up, pinning her between the elevator floor and the top of the elevator entrance in a Manhattan office building. It was later determined that a maintenance worker had disabled a safety circuit while he was working on the elevator that would have prevented the elevator from moving with its doors open. At the time of this particular accident, there was no licensing requirement for New York elevator technicians. A bill that would require licensing and set requirements for technicians has been introduced and is pending with the New York City Council.

Despite incidents such as this, stringent codes and maintenance requirements help keep elevators extraordinarily safe. However, the codes that apply can be drastically different depending upon the age of the elevator and whether it has been modernized or not. Further complicating things, the requirements of certification of mechanics vary widely from place to place and it can be very difficult to know whether you can trust the person you are hiring to maintain and/or repair an elevator.

The standard adopted by most authorities having jurisdiction is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Standard A17.1 which is the safety code for elevators and escalators. This Standard includes annual, semi-annual and monthly requirements, as well as also calling for a maintenance control plan for each individual elevator, which helps account for the fact that not every elevator is used the same way.

A different section of the Standard, ASME A17.3, Safety Code for Existing Elevators and Escalators, establishes standards for safety and operations in older elevators that are not modernized, but it has not seen widespread adoption.

Although elevators and escalators are probably one of the most expensive single pieces of equipment that a building owner can have, they are potentially one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in the building. Therefore, periodic maintenance and inspections are very important to keep them running safely and reliably.

In New York, the owners and managers of various different buildings which house elevators and escalators commonly rely upon service contracts and technicians from the elevator manufacturer or other private companies to provide maintenance, repair and inspection services. These services are usually performed pursuant to a contract with the owner and/or managing agent. Sometimes in much larger buildings there will be someone on call from the elevator company at all times.

Potential Defendants in an Elevator or Escalator Accident

Clearly, building owners are responsible for the safe and proper operation of elevators and escalators that are located within their buildings. Property and building owners often rely upon management companies to manage their building which also includes responsibility for overseeing any maintenance, repair and/or inspection of elevators and escalators. Certainly, property owners and managing agents are potential defendants as a result of any accident and injuries sustained in an elevator or on an escalator. However, it is extremely important for any law office undertaking the prosecution of any elevator or escalator accident lawsuit to include in the lawsuit, in addition to an owner or managing agent, any elevator and escalator maintenance and service companies and possibly even any equipment manufacturers who may be responsible for the circumstances which led up to the accident.

Most elevator and/or escalator accidents are caused by improper servicing, inspection or installation of equipment associated with the elevator or escalator. The company that inspects, maintains and services an elevator or escalator does have a responsibility to ensure that these vital pieces of equipment are operating correctly and properly and that they are free of conditions which could cause harm to people utilizing the elevators and escalators on a daily basis.

Only through a thorough investigation of the elevator or escalator accident and inspection of all ownership, repair, maintenance and inspection documentation will a competent and qualified attorney be able to ascertain all of the potentially responsible parties who need to be brought into a lawsuit. At the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C., we are familiar with all necessary elements involved in an elevator or escalator accident case in addition to having at our disposal the necessary resources required to properly investigate such an accident, including experts in the field who can provide us with the valuable information that we need. Call our office at 212-689-5000 for a free consultation to discuss any unfortunate accident involving you or a loved one so that all necessary steps can be taken to protect your legal rights for the purpose of obtaining full and fair compensation and damages due to your harms and losses.

Important Information and Documentation in Order to Prove Responsibility

In order to ascertain responsibility and prove liability of a building owner, building management agent or any company involved in the servicing, inspection, repair and/or maintenance of an elevator, it is necessary to obtain and secure various information and documentation, such as the following:

  1. A complete copy of the contract, including any modifications, addendums and/or attachments which were in effect on the date of the accident and during a substantial period of time prior to the accident between a building owner, managing agent and/or elevator company that is servicing and maintaining the elevator or escalator equipment involved.
  2. The full names and identities of all persons who were responsible for maintaining, servicing and inspecting the elevator and/or escalator in question on behalf of any building owner, managing agent or elevator/escalator service company.
  3. Complete copies of all records and logs maintained by any building owner or managing agent relating to the maintenance, repair, service and/or inspection performed upon any elevator or escalator in the building.
  4. All logs, books, service slips and any other documentation kept by any elevator/escalator service company who had the responsibility for repairing, maintaining, servicing and/or inspecting an elevator/escalator for a number of years prior to and including the date of an accident involving an elevator/escalator.
  5. All records, logs and/or service slips relating to any modifications or upgrades which were made to the elevator/escalator involved in the accident.
  6. All correspondence, including copies of all estimates which were provided to an owner or managing agent of a building by an elevator service company relating to proposed work, labor and/or services to be eventually performed upon any elevator/escalator involved in the subject accident.
  7. Copies of all invoices and canceled checks relating to any payment for servicing, inspection, maintenance and/or repair of the subject elevator/escalator prior to and including the date of the subject accident.
  8. Copies of any records, invoices, service slips and any other document which was completed as a result of any repair and inspection conducted directly as a result of the subject accident.
  9. The names and identities of all inspection companies and/or agencies which the building owner and/or managing agent hired and/or contracted with for purposes of inspecting the elevator in question pursuant to local law or otherwise.
  10. All documents which were prepared and completed by or on behalf of any state or local governmental agency pertaining to any testing or inspection required under the law.
  11. Complete copies of all violations issued by any state or local governmental agency or department there under relating to the elevator/escalator involved in the subject accident, including any other written complaints which were filed.
  12. An investigation and canvass of the building in question so as to determine whether there are any witnesses or other known complaints concerning the elevator/escalator in question prior to the subject accident.

Elevator Safety Tips

When you approach the elevator:

  • Know your destination
  • Push the “up” or “down” bottom for the direction you want to go
  • Stand aside for exiting passengers
  • Wait for the next car if the elevator is full
  • Do not try to stop a closing door with anything, including hands, feet, canes, etc. Wait for the next elevator
  • Take the stairs if there is a fire in the building and do not enter into an elevator

When you enter and leave the elevator:

  • Watch your step and enter and exit carefully
  • Hold children and pets firmly
  • Stand clear of the doors and keep clothes and carry-ons away from the opening
  • Push and hold the “door open” button if doors need to be held open or ask someone to push the button for you,
  • but do not push or hold the door open in any other manner

When riding on an elevator:

  • Stand back from the doors
  • Hold onto the hand rail if one is available
  • Pay attention to the floor indicators
  • If the doors do not open when the elevator stops, push the “door open” button

What someone should do when an elevator stops between floors:

  • Utilize the alarm button and wait for assistance
  • If a phone is available, follow instructions to summon help
  • Remain patient. There is plenty of air and the interior of the elevator is designed for passenger safety

What someone should NOT do when an elevator stops between floors:

  • Do not attempt to force open the doors
  • Do not attempt to leave the elevator. The elevator hatch is designed for professional personnel who will provide assistance from the outside of the elevator cab.

Escalator Safety Tips

Before entering escalators:

  • Do not use canes, walkers or wheeled vehicles on an escalator
  • Do not rise an escalator barefoot or with loose shoelaces
  • Confirm the direction of the moving steps before stepping onto the escalator

When entering escalators:

  • Step on and off promptly. Take extra care if you are wearing bifocals
  • Hold children or small packages firmly with one hand
  • Grasp the handrail as you step promptly onto the moving step

When riding escalators:

  • Stand toward the middle of the step which is away from the sides and face forward
  • Keep loose clothing clear of steps and sides
  • Keep a firm grip on the handrail
  • Reposition your hand slowly if the handrail moves ahead or behind the steps
  • Do not rest your handbag or parcels on the handrail
  • Pay attention. Do not daydream or gaze about while riding
  • Do not lean against the side

When exiting escalators:

  • Do not hesitate. Step off promptly
  • Immediately move clear of the escalator exit area. Do not stop or talk or look around. Other passengers may be behind you.

Escalators have been designed with your safety in mind. The following safety features have been built into all escalators:

  • The handrail and the moving steps are designed to move at the same rate to help people keep their balance
  • Handrails extend several feet into the entry to help passengers adjust to the correct speed before stepping on
  • Brakes and a shutoff are automatically activated if the speed is too fast or too slow
  • In the event of an emergency, push one of the stop buttons located at the top or bottom landings of the escalator at the handrail or the floor level