When we think of using an elevator, often times we envision ourselves using one to get to our apartments or to a store. Many of us also use elevators to get to and from our office spaces. Elevators are commonly found in every workplace from an office building to a hospital or warehouse. If you are an elevator mechanic, you are probably working in and around elevators all day, every day.
If you suffer an workplace injury on the job that is caused by an elevator, it is important to understand who can be held liable for your accident and injuries. It is also critical to understand the type of compensation you may be entitled to in such cases. If you were injured in an elevator accident while working, you may be able to seek workers' compensation benefits.
In addition, you may also be able to file a third-party lawsuit or personal injury lawsuit depending on who was negligent or at fault. An experienced Los Angeles elevator accident attorney can help evaluate your case and assess all available options.
What Causes Elevator Accidents?
One of the most common causes of fatal and major injury elevator accidents, including those suffered on the job, is falling into the elevator shaft. A number of these elevator accidents also occur because victims get caught in or between the elevator's moving parts, or get struck by the elevators or counterweights while they are moving. Here are some other common causes of elevator accidents:
Misleveling: This occurs when an elevator does not come to stop at the correct position in level with the floor. This leaves a dangerous space between the elevator car and the floor. Such a situation can be extremely dangerous because people could trip and fall or even fall through the gap.
Excessive speed: If the elevator exceeds recommended speeds, serious injuries or accidents could occur when there are sudden stops. This could cause passengers to fall to the floor or hit the sides of the car leading to serious injuries.
Malfunctioning elevator doors: When elevator doors are not installed or maintained properly, the doors could close too quickly. Passengers could become injured when doors close quickly or before they enter or leave the elevator.
Faulty controls: It is important that elevator software be regularly upgraded with the latest technology that improves safety. This is because an elevator's operating software could deteriorate or degrade over time.
Common Injuries in Elevator Accidents
Elevator accidents have the potential to major or even catastrophic injuries including:
- Crushed body parts when caught in between doors
- Head and/or neck and back trauma when the elevator stops or starts abruptly
- Broken bones or fractures from trips and falls due to elevator misleveling
- Electric burns from faulty control panels
- Severed limbs or amputations
- Cuts and bruises
- Internal organ trauma
Who Can Be Held Liable in an Elevator Accident?
If you have been injured in an elevator accident on the job, there are several third parties other than your employer who may be held liable for your injuries and losses including:
Elevator maintenance and installation companies: These are firms that are hired to install, maintain and repair elevators. If the firm's incompetence or negligence in terms of installing, maintaining or repairing an elevator led to an injury accident, they may be held liable for the victim's losses.
Property owners: Under California's premises liability law, property owners have a legal obligation to make sure their premises are safe. This includes making sure elevators in their building are operating safely. It is the duty of a property owner and/or manager to make sure elevators are serviced and maintained regularly and any worn parts are replaced. In cases where an elevator accident occurs due to failure to maintain, property owners and/or managers can be held liable.
Elevator manufacturers: When an inherent product defect causes an elevator malfunction or accident, the manufacturer of the elevator can also be held liable with a product liability lawsuit. Such a lawsuit can also be filed if the company failed to warn users of known dangers associated with using their elevator.
Workers' Compensation Claims for Elevator Accidents on the Job
If you have suffered injuries in an elevator accident on the job, you may be able to recover workers' compensation benefits from your employer, which covers medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. However, collecting workers' compensation benefits does not prohibit you from filing a lawsuit against a third party whose negligence caused your accident.
While anyone could be injured in an elevator accident on the job, workers who are most likely to be injured in an elevator accident including elevator mechanics; elevator inspectors; those who clean areas in and around elevators; elevator installers; and those who use or work near a grain elevator.
Damages in an Elevator Accident Lawsuit
Victims of elevator accidents in Los Angeles are often able to recover economic and non-economic damages for injuries and damages sustained. Economic damages compensate victims for the financial losses sustained as a result of the accident and injury. In such cases, plaintiffs must be able to show evidence that they suffered monetary losses as a result of the accident and injuries such as medical expenses, lost income, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, nursing care, reduced earning capacity, etc.
Non-economic damages compensate workers for harms suffered in an elevator accident for which it is difficult to assign a monetary value. Examples of such damages are physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of life's enjoyment, loss of consortium and disfigurement.
Steps to Take After an Elevator Accident
If you have been injured in an elevator accident on the job, it is important that you take the following steps:
- See a medical professional as soon as possible to document your injuries. This is will help ensure that you are on the road to recovery and that you are able to document the injuries you have suffered and the treatment you sought and received.
- File an accident report. Whether it is with the police department, fire department or some other entity, an accident report is great for documenting information that could be lost or forgotten over time.
- Take photos and videos of the scene including those of your injuries and the elevator.
- Call an attorney who will help you take the steps immediately after the accident to help protect your rights.
Why Should I Hire an Elevator Accident Attorney?
The time period after a traumatic event such as an elevator accident can be extremely stressful and challenging. Filing a personal injury claim can involve a complex process, which is best handled by a lawyer who is not only experienced in elevator accident cases, but also knows how to represent injured workers.
The knowledgeable Los Angeles work injury lawyers at Greenberg & Ruby will help make the process less stressful for you and your family, and assist you with securing the maximum possible compensation for your losses. If you have been injured on the job, you may have to miss time at work. If your injuries are severe, you may have to deal with reduced earning capacity. A work injury lawsuit can help you recoup these costs. Our Los Angeles work injury attorneys will fight for your rights every step of the way.