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Liability For Elevator Injuries


We all tend to think of an elevator as being a safer mode of transportation up and down floors than the stairs. As a general rule that may be true—but elevators can create their own set of problems, and it is not unusual to be injured in an elevator.

Injuries on or Around an Elevator

There are a number of ways that someone can be injured in an elevator.

Some are common to areas outside an elevator, like dirty or slippery floors. While this can happen anywhere, it tends to be more common in elevators, as cleaning or inspection staff may not even look inside the elevator to assess the cleanliness or safety of the floor inside.

But there are many ways of getting injured on an elevator, that are in fact unique to an elevator. Some examples may be:

  • Elevators that don’t align with the surrounding floor when they stop, leading to a step-up or step-down when getting on or off the elevator, which can lead to trip and falls
  • Sudden, unexpected, or jerking movements of the elevator, which can cause falls or back injuries
  • Crushed appendages, should the doors of the elevators close when they aren’t supposed to close
  • Catastrophic injuries from walking into an elevator, and falling down the shaft, if the doors were to open to the elevator, without the elevator cab actually being there.

Who is Liable?

When an elevator malfunctions, causing injury, you can expect a lot of parties to be potentially responsible for your injuries. The building owner could be liable, based on its maintenance history, knowledge of prior problems with the elevator, or refusal to fix those problems.

A property owner may point the finger at service or maintenance companies, saying that the problem should have been something that the maintenance company observed, and repaired. Elevators have a complex web of cables, bands, and gears–much like your car–and they can wear out or misalign if not properly maintained.

In some cases, an elevator may have a defective part, which could lead to a products liability lawsuit, where a manufacturer needs to be held responsible.

You also get into the problem of ownership vs. control of the elevator—in many buildings, tenants may use an elevator, but it may be the building owner responsible for maintaining and repairing it. Often, a victim will have to look at a building lease to see who is responsible for upkeep of an elevator.

Elevator Safety Laws

Many states including Tennessee, have laws that say how often an elevator must be inspected, obtain permits, and maintained in “safe operating condition,” in accordance with state rules and regulations. Many building owners ignore these requirements. When they do, and they violate building codes or elevator safety laws, they can be held liable for the injuries caused by the elevator.

Have you been injured on an elevator, or an escalator, or on a stairwell? Call the Knoxville personal injury lawyers at Fox Farley Willis & Burnette, PLLC, today.




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