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Elevator accidents: Devastating outcomes when something goes wrong

There are tens of thousands of elevators operating in buildings across New York City. And for the most part, they run relatively smoothly.

But when something does go wrong with the functionality of an elevator, the consequences can be catastrophic. So, what goes wrong?

Failed maintenance and repair

Elevators must be properly maintained over time so that they are safe. And it requires more than vacuuming and cleaning inside. For example, the elevator motor, sheave and braking mechanism must prevent free-fall accidents; elevator door and gibs must be secure to prevent falls into an open shaft; elevator door-closing mechanisms must prevent crush injuries when people are trying to enter or leave the elevator car; and elevator leveling mechanisms must work properly to prevent tripping accidents.

Per New York City and state regulations, building owners must have an elevator maintenance contract in place with an approved vendor. These parties must perform regular maintenance, tests and inspections to ensure the elevators are functioning properly.

If this maintenance does not occur, issues can linger and worsen, putting riders at a higher risk of injury. One tragic example of this occurred recently when a New York man was killed trying to retrieve dropped keys in an elevator pit. Reports indicate that there was a history of operational problems with the elevator, which may have contributed to the devastating accident.

Improper construction, installation

An elevator could present a hazard to riders from the first day it is installed. There could be risks stemming from defective products, faulty wiring and installation by untrained parties.

There are also different types of elevators. Installing the wrong kind, or attempting to use one elevator for purposes it is not designed for, can result in malfunction and accidents. Thus, building owners, contractors and developers must be sure that qualified, trained parties are in charge of the installation process.

Investigating elevator accidents

A thorough investigation is crucial after an elevator accident, even if it was not fatal. Investigators will determine what went wrong, whether it was due to maintenance, operational or installation issues.

Depending on the findings of an investigation, injured parties and their families may discover that a negligent party may be liable for the accident and the resulting damages. Discussing these remedies with an experienced personal injury attorney can be wise for anyone facing this difficult situation.

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