It is without question that millions of people every day use elevators at their work, home or any building they are visiting. To ensure the elevators are operating safely, we must rely on a building owner or its managing agent, as well as the elevator service company, to make sure the elevators are maintained, inspected and repaired on a regular basis. If any one of these entities fail to perform their duty of ensuring the elevators are kept in a safe working condition, then accidents can be the unfortunate consequence.
In a recent case involving an elevator accident, a building tenant was injured when an elevator door closed too fast on his hand. The building owner and manager claimed they never received any complaints regarding existing problems with the elevator door closing fast. The elevator mechanic testified that he never performed any repairs based on the elevator door opening and closing too quickly. He did admit replacing the “elevator shoe”, which was a necessary component for the elevator door to close. However, the witness did not know when this repair work was done. The mechanic further claimed that if there were any complaints about the elevator from the building tenants, he would have received a call from the building superintendent.
The injured tenant testified that before his accident he had complained to the building management and superintendent “numerous times” about the velocity which the elevator door closed. He claimed that before he was injured, he spoke with the management company about the elevator door and he was told that management would send a service company to fix the issue. He also claimed that about two months before his accident, he witnessed a friend of his get hit in the arm by the fast closing elevator door. He reported this incident to the building superintendent and management company.
This accident occurred when the tenant was trying to exit the elevator. When he arrived at his floor, the elevator’s inner door partially opened and stopped. When he placed his hand in the opening to try and push the outer door open, the door slammed on his hand. Due to the door closing on his hand, the injured tenant was caused to fracture his thumb, which required surgical repair.
After all discovery was completed, the building owner, managing agents and elevator service company filed motions to dismiss the injured tenant’s lawsuit. The building owner, manager and elevator company all claimed they were never notified about the elevator door malfunctioning. In response, the tenant claimed the elevator company had worked on the elevator door several times and was aware of the problem. He further claimed the building was well aware of the problem and presented an elevator expert who found the elevator was issued multiple violations resulting from inspections performed over the course of multiple years. However, the lower court agreed with the defendants and dismissed the case.
On appeal, the Appellate Court reversed the lower court and denied the defendants’ requests to dismiss the case. The injured tenant was able to reverse the lower court decision as his testimony showed an issue remained for a jury to determine whether the defendants were aware of the elevator door malfunctioning.
The appellate court also noted how the opinions of the plaintiff and defendants’ experts disagreed on the causes for the elevator door’s malfunction, the purpose of the “elevator shoe” and how the door’s velocity was relevant to causing the tenant’s hand injuries. The court held that this disagreement raised another issue on whether the building owner, management and service company were aware of the elevator door’s problem.
This case shows how important it is to establish from the beginning whether any problems with a building’s elevator were reported to the companies responsible for inspecting, repairing or maintaining it. If you live in a building where an elevator is not working properly, make sure you report the problem in writing and confirm that the complaint was received by the superintendent or management. If not, it is too easy for the management company to claim they were never notified of the problem and therefore lacked sufficient time to do anything about it. If you are in an accident involving an elevator, contacting experienced attorneys at The Platta Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible is essential as we will request all security videos of the elevator, inspection reports and any service or repair records. We will also take statements from witnesses who are aware of the elevator problems and can show their awareness of the problem that should have been repaired.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an accident, please reach out to The Platta law Firm, PLLC for a free legal consultation by calling us 24/7 at 212– 514–5100, emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting our office in lower Manhattan (42 Broadway, Suite 1927). You can also ask us questions through the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.plattalaw.com). We offer free consultations for all potential personal injury cases.