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Elevator Accident Attorneys

Statistics provided by the New York City Department of Buildings state that there are more than 70,000 elevators and escalators in New York City.

Elevators are indeed ubiquitous. Fortunately, elevator accidents are not very common events. In New York City, the Department of Buildings has a record of 104 accidents in 2010, 97 in 2011, 108 in 2012, 107 in 2013 and 89 in 2014. This impressive safety record may be the fruit of advancing technology, stringent laws, and to some degree, municipal vigilance.

But elevator accidents do occur. Some accidents involving elevators may not be reported. No doubt, the public is aware of many of the most newsworthy cases. This past year (2016) saw a very significant elevator accident involving a baby and her mother who plunged into an open elevator shaft at 3415 Neptune Avenue in Sea Gate, Brooklyn. In 2011, a woman was killed in Manhattan when an elevator took off while she was entering the elevator. If you perform a simple “You Tube” search, you can find incidents of truly horrific elevator accidents around the globe.

The New York City Department of Buildings lists the “top elevator offenders” utilizing data which includes records of violations as well as the records of New York City field inspectors. The department has set up a unit called the “elevator unit” which is charged with the responsibility to oversee the proper maintenance of elevators in the City of New York. The stated purpose of the unit is to support the safety and reliability of elevators in the City of New York.

It is important to call 311 if you see or hear of any defect in the operation of an elevator in New York City. This will ensure that the City of New York will assign an inspection and hopefully that action will result in a quick resolution of a problem before an accident occurs.

The elevator enforcement program pursues landlords who have persistent elevator problems. For example, as of July 7, 2017 there were three listed “top owner offenders”: 540 Jackson Realty Corporation for 540 Jackson Avenue, Bronx, New York; 301 Management LLC for 1839 University Avenue, Bronx, New York (referred to HPD emergency repair program); and 653-657 LLC for 657 Crotona Park North, Bronx, New York (referred to HPD emergency repair program). The elevator unit has many functions including enforcement, accident investigations, periodic inspections, surveys, and complaint inspections.

Notwithstanding oversight, there are landlords that do not adequately maintain certain elevators. Accidents do occur. Misleveling of elevators are commonly seen. Accidents caused by this condition   may be actionable under certain circumstances. We have handled matters involving sudden drops and movements by elevators which was caused by negligence. A poorly maintained and malfunctioning elevator can be transformed from an instrument of convenience to one of hazard and danger.

Landlords are mandated to promptly report to the New York City Department of Buildings any elevator accident resulting in personal injury and requiring the treatment by a physician. They must notify the City of every accident before they commence repairs. The Department of Building is required to conduct an immediate and full investigation. Upon completion of the investigation they must prepare a full and complete report of their findings. Any parts taken from the elevator after an accident must be approved in advance by the Department of Buildings.

There are unfortunately elevator accidents involving elevator workers as well. This may be caused by broken or inadequate ladders, lack of safety equipment, improper or inadequate guardrails, or other work safety equipment inadequacies. Such accidents may also be actionable.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an elevator accident, promptly contact us for a free case evaluation. Any potential lawsuit should be preceded by a very thorough and complete investigation. It is very useful that this be done as soon as possible after an accident in order to preserve evidence and locate witnesses.

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