Getting a Recovery for Elevator Accidents

Yesterday, in a very sad news story, a woman was killed in an unusual elevator accident.  See story here.

The woman was coming to work at her office on Madison Avenue.  She was in the lobby and was entering an elevator.  She was halfway in the elevator cab, with one foot still in the lobby, when suddenly the elevator quickly ascended with its doors open.  This lady was crushed between the elevator and the shaft wall.

There is no question that the elevator grossly malfunctioned.  It appears that the interlock device did not work.  An interlock would have prevented the elevator from going up or down while its doors are open.  

Generally, a personal injury lawsuit will be against both

  1. the building owner; and
  2. the elevator maintenance company.

The building owner has a non-delegable duty for the maintenance and operation of the elevators.  Generally, building owners hire elevator companies on yearly contracts to maintain and repair the elevators.  Building owners do not have the technical expertise, and it is uneconomical to keep an elevator mechanic on payroll.  Therefore, owners routinely hire elevator companies to perform regular maintenance and repairs.  

In addition to a lawsuit, an injured person may have rights under workers’ compensation if he were injured in the course of his employment.  Entering and leaving the workplace, i.e., the office building, would be covered as a workplace injury.

If you have been injured in an elevator accident, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation at either 800-581-1434.

Mark E. Seitelman, 12/15/11,


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