Elevator Accidents

Houston Elevator Accident Lawyer

Experienced Attorneys for Elevator Accident Victims.

Call 1-800-298-0111 to get a free consultation with an experienced Houston elevator accident lawyer today. Christopher Keith Fletcher has experience handling elevator accidents involving all types of elevators, from passenger elevators in office buildings to industrial elevators in factories. If you have been injured due to an elevator failure, it is crucial that you contact an elevator accident attorney immediately to discuss your options.

What Types of Elevator Accidents do We Handle?

Our elevator accident lawyer handles elevator accidents involving serious injury or death. Some of the most common elevator accidents we see include:

  • Failure of the elevator to land level with the floor resulting in a trip hazard.
  • Electrocution of elevator repair personnel due to failure to lock out the elevator and/or de-energize the elevator when it is out-of-service and under repair.
  • Elevator doors slamming shut due to malfunction.
  • Speed governor failures resulting in the elevator shooting up or down too fast or not stopping at all.
  • Failures of cables, brakes, or other mechanical safety systems resulting in the elevator car falling and crashing at the bottom of the elevator shaft.
  • Persons being trapped in an elevator car.
  • Door failure where the hoistway doors appear open to the user attempting to enter the elevator from a floor but the elevator car is not at the correct floor and the user steps into the open elevator shaft and falls.
  • Hoist cable failure and governor cable failure due to improper maintenance.

Any of the above types of elevator accidents can result in serious injury or even death.

Who is Liable for an Elevator Accident?

The primary persons who may be liable for an elevator accident caused by negligence include the building owner, elevator owner, property manager, the elevator maintenance and service company, and possibly employers.  The facts of each case will determine who is ultimately liable.

Most Codes impose a duty upon the building owner and elevator owner (who are often not the same) to conduct regular inspections no more than 12 months apart and perform any needed maintenance identified therein.  The property manager may be liable if they were contracted to oversee the maintenance and failed to do so or if they received reports of issues and failed to take corrective action.  In addition to this, the elevator maintenance company contracted to inspect and maintain is liable when they fail to do their job properly.  Lastly, an employer of workers that fails to carry out their nondelegable duty to provide training and equipment to an employee who is injured while working on or around an elevator may be liable.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Houston Elevator Accident Lawyer?

We offer free consultations with a Houston elevator accident attorney. Additionally, our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis which means that you pay nothing upfront and do not pay us any of our expenses or attorneys fees unless we make a recovery for you.  We simply do not get paid unless you do.

How Common are Elevator Accidents?

According to the National Elevator Industry. Inc., 575 million people are transported by elevators and escalators to their destination on a normal business day in the United States. The vast majority of the time, this happens without any issue.   However, approximately 25 people die and over 10,000 more are injured in elevator accidents each year.  Many of these elevator accidents can be prevented by proper maintenance and timely repair of elevators.

What Laws Apply to Elevators?

In order to determine which laws apply in your elevator case, you must look at the local laws (municipal and/or county codes) to determine what set of rules have been adopted in the area where the elevator is located. In Texas, the State licenses elevators under Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 754 which requires that annual inspection reports be filed with the State. This Code allows municipalities to adopt codes that meet the minimum requirements under the Elevator Safety Code published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Are the Elevator Safety Codes Standard?

No.  The Elevator Safety Code is not standard across the states. It is merely a published set of standards that must be adopted as a part of or in addition to state and/or local business codes to become the law of the land. As we all know, local government bodies such as municipal and county governments often move slowly. If they do not have an automatic adoption clause in their local business code that adopts the latest version of the Elevator Safety Code, then they may operate under an older version of the Elevator Safety Code until the appropriate administrative body meets, reviews the new standards, and moves to adopt them.  This may take years or they may never choose to adopt the new code.

How Can Passenger Elevator Accidents be Prevented?

Most elevator accidents are a result of a mechanical malfunction due to wear and tear over time. These accidents can be prevented by setting and following a regular inspection and maintenance schedule that promptly addresses any potential issues. Furthermore, it is critical that only properly trained personnel be allowed to work on and inspect the elevators.

How Can Elevator Accidents for Repair Workers be Prevented?

Approximately 50% of the deaths and many of the injuries that result annually from elevator accidents involve persons working on the elevators themselves.  These occur primarily in two ways: electrocution or falls.  Electrocution injuries of persons working on elevators can be avoided by following set procedures for locking out electrical circuits and mechanical equipment that have been de-energized during a repair.  The United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has very clear rules regarding work around electrical hazards like elevators. Falls can be reduced by ensuring that all persons working on or around elevators and elevator shafts are using proper fall protection gear as well as proper lighting. Competent and adequate supervision is also key. Good employers know that safety means employing teams of workers, rather than individuals without backup.

How do I Know if an Elevator Accident Case?

Knowing whether your elevator accident was the result of neglect can often be impossible for you, the passenger, to determine without hiring an elevator accident lawyer who handles elevator accident cases. Likewise, injured workers are frequently victims of misinformation from employers looking to cover up the injury. An elevator accident attorney can request the investigation reports from OSHA and the State regulatory agencies to determine what the cause of the elevator failure was. Furthermore, if necessary, your attorney can file a lawsuit and subpoena the necessary documents to determine whether the elevator was timely inspected and properly maintained.

What Evidence Does an Elevator Accident Attorney Need to Determine If I Have a Case?

There are many pieces of evidence that can help an elevator accident attorney investigate and determine the root cause of your case. Some of this evidence includes:

  • Any incident reports from the state or local regulatory agency and/or OSHA.
  • The state-mandated inspection reports.
  • Any inspection, maintenance, service, and repair logs or reports kept by the elevator owner, building management, and/or contracted maintenance companies.
  • Any work orders that were issued and accompanying receipts or other documentation demonstrating whether the work was actually performed.
  • Any and all complaints reported to the building owner, building management, and/or elevator company prior to the time of the incident.
  • Any surveillance or security video from inside the elevator and/or building.
  • Any correspondence and/or recommendations between the elevator maintenance company and the building management.

What are the Most Common Types of Elevators?

The two most common elevator types are traction and hydraulic. Traction elevators lift the car up and down by way of ropes and a wheel while a counterweight helps reduce the lift load. These elevators may be geared or gearless.  Hydraulic elevators use a piston to push the elevator car up and down.  These tend to travel at slower speeds than traction elevators which is why traction elevators are more common. A third type known as vacuum elevators are becoming more popular for private dwelling use, however, they only transport 1-3 people at a time and are ideal only for low-story buildings. Each elevator type has its own specific maintenance requirements. Elevator maintenance companies, therefore, must have the right people and equipment for the job. Improper maintenance on any elevator, regardless of type, makes preventable injuries inevitable.

The Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., law firm is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the injured by zealously advocating on behalf of the client we represent. Elevator cases can be both expensive and challenging. Thus, we evaluate the merits of each case on a case-by-case basis. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed due to an elevator accident, contact us for a free case evaluation today.

Author