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Property owners in NYC have a responsibility to keep elevators safe

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Elevators are convenient, but can be deadly when they are not properly maintained. Thousands of people are injured every year in elevator accidents.

New York City residents should have a reasonable expectation that the buildings they live and work in are safe. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. Improper maintenance, negligent property owners and lax safety standards may contribute to a building that is a hazard for anyone inside.

The kind of high-rise building that is common in New York City comes with a unique set of potential dangers. One of the deadliest hazards in a multi-story apartment or office building is a faulty or improperly maintained elevator. According to VeryWell.com, many people across the country each year are injured in accidents related to elevators, and about six are killed. At least one of those killed every year is a child under the age of 10. In fact, elevators can be particularly hazardous to children. An average of 2,000 children are hurt each year in elevator-related mishaps. Many of these accidents occur due to the negligence of a property owner.

Common elevator accidents

Some of the most common ways to be injured in an elevator accident include the following:

  • Falling into an empty elevator shaft when the door opens and a car is not available
  • Having a door close on an arm, hand or other body part
  • Getting struck or crushed by a malfunctioning car going between floors when the door is open
  • Being inside an elevator car when it falls
  • Falling while attempting to exit a stuck elevator

To reduce the chances of being involved in an elevator accident, people should look before stepping through an elevator door. If the door begins to close, they should not attempt to stop it with their arms or hands. Those who are trapped in a stuck elevator should call for help by pressing the emergency button, using the elevator phone or calling authorities with a cellphone. They should never attempt to leave an open elevator that is stuck between floors. Finally, parents should always watch their children when entering or exiting an elevator and teach older children about elevator safety.

Manhattan resident crushed by improperly maintained elevator

Last New Year’s Eve, a tragic accident occurred in a New York City building, which highlighted the dangers of defective lifts. According to the New York Daily News, an open elevator began to descend while people were leaving the car. One man pushed a woman to safety before becoming pinned between floors. Although rescue workers attempted to save him, the man was crushed to death. The property owners reportedly had numerous violations for failing to keep the elevator compliant to local codes and for not repairing known defects.

The National Conference of State Legislatures states that property owners are responsible for keeping buildings safe and habitable for residents and employees. This includes regularly maintaining elevators and fixing safety issues immediately before someone is injured or killed. Those who were involved in an elevator accident due to a property owner’s negligence have the right to pursue compensation by contacting an experienced New York personal injury attorney.

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.