Injuries caused by faulty elevators are usually very severe. With the tens of thousands of elevators in the Houston area alone, the potential for personal injury is always present.
When somebody is hurt in an elevator, it rarely occurs absent the negligence of either the property owner or the company which has been paid to maintain the elevator. While we all take for granted that the elevator we enter will take us where we need to go without incident, when things go wrong there can be devastating results. Like other premises liability cases, property owners have a duty to repair faulty elevators.
Cities require regular inspection and maintenance of elevators and the machinery that makes them work. For instance, the City of Houston has an elevator ordinance which requires elevators in commercial establishment to
have an annual inspection and obtain an annual permit. The inspection must be by an approved elevator inspection company and they must conduct a periodic full-load test.
When poor maintenance shortcuts are taken injuries can result. Some common malfunctions that can cause serious injuries in a defective elevator include:
- Sudden landings or stops. A malfunctioning elevator can stop too fast and cause injury to the passengers from falls.
- Unsafe drops. A rapid drop and then stop can cause passengers to fall to the floor and experience serious personal injuries including back and neck injury.
- Doors opening without the elevator car in place. This malfunction can cause people to fall down the gap between the car and the floor wall or trip when exiting.
- Doors opening before the car is fully at a floor. This problem can cause passengers to attempt to climb out of the elevator. They can then be injured during their attempt especially if the car suddenly moves while they are trying to escape.
- Doors closing and trapping people. There have been many tragic accidents in elevators where the door closes on a passenger effectively trapping them in and out of the car. The elevator then suddenly ascends or drops injuring and in some cases decapitating the victim.
- Uneven gap between the elevator car floor and the building floor. This can cause a slip and fall injury when entering or exiting the elevator.