Elevator accidents may sound like random events scripted in Hollywood action films, but the startling reality is many people are severely injured by elevators every year. Outdated and ineffective elevator technology is being cited in an increasing number of personal injury cases. Children in particular are frequent victims to catastrophic elevator accidents that often end in fatality.
It’s important to realize that all elevators are not created equal when it comes to safety features. Swing-door elevators found in many homes and smaller buildings are usually not equipped with the infrared sensor technology found on industrial lifts. In an elevator accident, that means the swing-door lift still functions, even if someone is trapped in the outer shaft. The result is a catastrophic and often fatal accident.
Georgia toddler Jacob Helvey was catastrophically injured in a 2010 swing-door elevator accident. Trapped in the elevator shaft, the young boy was crushed for 10 minutes before his family could pry him loose. The incident resulted in a spinal injury and permanent brain damage. Most often, children are the victims of elevator accidents. It’s estimated that residential elevators cause about 1,600 injuries between 2011 and 2012.
The Helvey family filed personal injury lawsuits against their elevator manufacturer, National Wheel-O-Vater, and its corporate parent ThyssenKrupp Access. The case was settled out of court, and ThyssenKrupp Access no longer supplies residential elevators in the United States.
If swing-door elevators are widely acknowledged to have serious design flaws that result in catastrophic accidents, why are they still being produced? First, they are smaller and less expensive than industrial elevators, making them a more appropriate option for residential environments. What’s more, most catastrophic accidents happen in low income urban areas that receive little press coverage. Overall, with lacking governmental safety regulations and elevator companies blaming contractors for incorrect installation, no one is willing to take responsibility.
It’s upsetting to think that something as innocuous as an elevator could be directly responsible for more than 10 child fatalities and countless catastrophic injuries. If your office or home has an elevator, request maintenance at the first sign of equipment malfunction. Stepping onto an elevator car should never be a gamble with personal injury.
Contact Atlanta personal injury and wrongful death attorney Michael Moebes at (404) 354-5432 for legal questions or concerns.