Elevator Accidents and Injuries in Hampton Roads, Virginia
Over my 25 years of working in personal injury law I’ve handled a number of elevator accident cases. Certainly in the big downtown areas of Norfolk and increasingly in the newer places like Town Center in Virginia Beach there are a good number of buildings with elevators. Some buildings are practically skyscrapers with numerous banks of elevators. Others are three-story buildings with only one elevator. One thing that I have learned in working on elevator cases recently is how important good maintenance is especially in older elevators that are hydraulically operated.
Older elevators are subject to wear and tear and mechanical breakdown over time. Often the landlord or property manager who runs the commercial building doesn’t want to spend the money to upgrade or modernize the equipment. So the owner just maintains the equipment fixing things as they break.
There are various ways that you can get hurt in an elevator and not just the dramatic way that you might see on television of somebody falling down an elevator shaft or a catastrophic failure of the elevator dropping multiple floors. For example a common problem in elevators is the failure of the equipment to properly level itself so that the elevator ends up stopping on a given floor with the floor of the cab of the elevator flush with the walking surface of the floor that it’s stopping on.
Even small differentials of a few inches can be major tripping hazards. The customer, whether a tenant in the building or a visitor, expects that the elevator is going to stop in a way that the two floors meet evenly. They have a right to assume that minimum levels of safety are going to be maintained by the owner and property manager. When re-leveling occurs or some mismatch between the two floors people can take a very serious fall. Older folks or people with preexisting conditions can end up shattering a hip or suffering other major injuries like a ruptured disc by being tripped by such hazards.
Another way that elevators can malfunction is that they can stop suddenly and unexpectedly between floors. People can get trapped in elevators and that would be very scary for many folks particularly those who are claustrophobic or afraid of being confined in a small area. Additionally, if an elevator stops suddenly it can cause somebody to lose their balance and can have some kind of injury from being caused to stumble, lose their balance or just be jarred significantly by the sudden and unexpected movement of the elevator.
I hope most landlords will spend the money necessary to have a good maintenance contract in place to have the elevator be serviced regularly and taken care of. Also the landowners and property managers need to immediately report to the elevator specialists any problems with the equipment that have been reported by tenants. The failure to properly address elevator malfunctions puts visitors to the building in jeopardy and can lead to personal injury lawsuits.
I have represented many clients in premises liability lawsuits. I have just completed writing a book on this issue. If you have been hurt in a store or a business, call our Virginia premises liability attorneys at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.