New York City Elevators – Are You Safe?

by Karla Somers on October 8, 2012

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New York City Skyscraper

(U.S. Law and Generally) Images of New York City are full of soaring skyscrapers punctuating the world’s most famous skyline, and everyday, millions of people make their living in some of the most architecturally sound buildings in the United States. Part of the security of working in a high-rise building is that you are protected by one of the most stringent building codes in the country, which includes elevator inspections. Section BC 3001 of the New York City Building Code spells out detailed instructions for maintaining safety standards, but despite regular inspections and overhauls, accidents do happen. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an elevator accident, it helps to know which type of situations warrant intervention by an attorney, and could potentially result in a financial settlement.

Elevator Inspections

The first thing you should do after suffering any type of elevator mishap is ask to see the elevator inspection records. According the New York City Department of Buildings, elevators must be inspected three times every two years, at a minimum, in addition to being tested once a year. Although the Department of Buildings has its own inspectors, private companies may be used, and all inspectors must have current certifications.

If you have been involved in an elevator accident, it also helps to speak to other people in that location to determine if there have been any previous complaints. Additionally, the personal injury attorneys at note that in the event of a serious elevator accident, “You may be entitled to receive benefits for your medical care, lost wages and other expenses related to your accident.” Asking questions and contacting the appropriate authorities early on will be beneficial should you face any legal issues pertaining to the incident.

Common Elevator Malfunctions

Whether you are a maintenance worker or a passenger, being injured by an elevator mishap falls under the category of premises liability, and is the responsibility of the property owner. Some common occurrences include:

1. Sudden Stops: Programming problems or electrical shorts can cause an elevator to come to a jarring stop. The most common results of this experience are back, neck and head injuries as a result of falls. You can also risk injury trying to climb out between floors.

2. Sudden Drops: If the pistons or cables of an elevator are allowed to wear down, it can cause a sudden drop of several floors. Injuries from a sudden drop can be serious, including neck and back problems, as well.

3. Exposed Shaft: Any elevator maintenance that leaves the shaft exposed to the general public is a potential hazard. The hoistway lock should always be engaged to prevent accidents in the event that the door should open without the cabin in the correct place.

4. Broken Door Sensor: Elevator doors are meant to detect any obstructions and re-open automatically, but a defective sensor can cause appendages, scarves or pocket books to become trapped. If an elevator begins moving with an obstruction in the door, items can become tangled in counterweights, causing injuries or even lost limbs.

If you have been injured in an elevator and you think the property owner, or someone else, holds some liability, contact an attorney who is experienced in dealing with elevator accidents. Your attorney will be able to trace the chain of responsibility to determine whether someone acted with negligence or endorsed standards that are below regulation. It also helps if your attorney has a general knowledge and/or specific experience with technical terms used in elevator maintenance and operations. This type of experience makes it easier to establish or rule out negligence in that type of situation.

Most elevators in New York City are safe and buildings are in compliance, but in the rare case that you are involved in this unfortunate kind of accident, take action immediately. Ultimately, in helping yourself recover from personal injury and possible financial damage, you will be preventing others from having a similar, and possibly frightening experience. Do your part to keep New York a safe place to live and work – on any floor.

Karla M. Somers is a writer who has taken students on many educational trips to New York City, including famous skyscrapers such as the original World Trade Center and the Empire State Building. She is a contributing author for the experienced personal injury lawyers at Located in the heart of New York City, the Perecman Law Firm is dedicated to helping people with all types of legal issues associated with workers’ compensation, wrongful death, construction accidents and medical malpractice.

Karla Somers

Karla Somers

Karla Somers

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