Elevator Accidents and Injuries

In Virginia 2013, an elevator mechanic almost lost his hand when it became entrapped by a traction sheave when he was working on a high rise building elevator. Reporters said that the worker’s hand was almost entirely severed; however, doctors were not sure if they would be able to save his hand or not. In another incident, a 44-year-old man was delivering liquid propane and was killed when he was fatally crushed by an elevator in an apartment building. He fell into an empty pit when the doors opened and the cab was not present. He walked inside and the cab descended right on top of him.

Causes of Elevator Accidents

There are many reasons why something as safe as an elevator can become deadly in only an instant. Yes, these accidents can stem from a variety of causes. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Mis-leveling: Sometimes an elevator may fail to come to a stop. Between the 1930s and 1960s, apartment houses used brake-controlled elevators, which were notorious for this issue and some are still around today. When somebody is injured in an accident, they can typically show that this incident has happened before with the same elevator because there may be reports. Violations may have occurred as well.
  • Defective Sliding Door: These accidents occur when a passenger is struck and injured by a closing elevator door. They commonly occur when door protective devices like safety edges malfunctioned or have defects.
  • Over-Speed: Passengers are sometimes thrown to the floor or against the cab wall when an elevator moves at an excessive speed. This can result in serious injuries to the cervical spine, ankles, knees, and other body parts belonging to the plaintiff.
  • Falls Into Shaftways: These are actually one of the most common causes of accidents relating to elevators. It can happen due to defective door interlocks, passengers who exit the elevator when it is stopped more than three feet from a landing, elevator surfing, and more. The question is: Did the accident happen to negligence from mechanical malfunction or because of the victim’s own actions?

Elevator Defects and Malfunctions

Elevators, like many other things, could be subject to defects or malfunction. Some of the ways in which this can occur is due to pulley system malfunction, open shaft, faulty wiring, incomplete repairs and maintenance, and wiring malfunction. There have been several brands of elevators in the past that have documented failures and possible lawsuits tied to them. One of these includes Abell Elevator cars and brakes, which led to the death of an Ohio State University freshman in 2006 when the brake failure occurred. Some other brands notorious for malfunction include Schindler, Viola Industries, and Otis.

Negligence and Liability

When you have been injured in an elevator accident, you may wonder how you can recover for your personal injury? There are many types of elevators and many different reasons why they might fail. Some of these types include manual, automatic, and escalators. Elevator accidents usually occur because of negligence. One party will be potentially liable; however, the injured party will have to prove the elements that are typical in a case of negligence. Will you, as the injured party, be able to show that the negligent party owed a standard duty of care, breached the duty, and the breach was the actual cause of the injury?

In the case of an elevator event, it may be difficult to show which party’s negligence caused the injury. Sometimes, it is evident that it will be nearly impossible to show. However, the law will still facilitate these types of situations. The alleged responsible party needs to show that they were not negligent, and the injured party will need to show that they were injured by no fault of their own.

Some of the defendants to be named in an elevator accident include the owner of the building where the elevator is located, any elevator maintenance company that conducts inspections, designers, manufacturers, installation companies, or the attendants who were responsible for operation. These are only a few of the individuals who may be named; however, you may find it most difficult to determine who is actually liable by standing back and viewing your accident from start to finish.


The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is in charge of many regulations and recalls; however, they do not oversee elevators as they do many other products. Because of this, elevator parts are not subject to federal accident inspections or parts recalls. This means that equipment owners may not find out about defects through mail when there is no requirement necessary. However, elevator accidents still continue to happen each year. About 27 people are killed in elevator accidents every year, with injuries affecting about 10,200 people per year. In deaths relating to the workplace, an outstanding 53% occur during installation or repair.

Filing a Third-Party Personal Injury Claim

This is an injury claim that is filed against somebody other than the employer. However, as mentioned previously, the plaintiff must be able to show who might have been responsible aside from the employer and what damages could be recovered. Compensation may be a lot more than what you would typically receive from workers’ compensation, which is the good news. This may be an important aspect to you if you were injured in a permanent and lasting way, such as a severe or disabling injury that could cause trauma to you for years to come. There is a high chance that an injury will be disabling if it involved an elevator, such as a traumatic brain injury caused by falling into the shaft.

You may find that you can recover damages for many aspects, such as medical expenses and lost earnings. You may also be compensated for the less obvious, such as pain and suffering, disability, and mental anguish. Call us today for more information regarding your case. At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, we understand that accidents happen but they do not have to leave a permanent and lasting impression on your life. Elevator accidents can be extremely serious and we can answer your questions regarding your case, so call us now!