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What You Should Know About Elevator Accident Laws in Brooklyn, NY

Mar 27, 2019 | Elevator Accidents

According to figures released by the Department of Buildings (DOB) of New York City, there are more than 4,000 freight elevators and 66,000 passenger elevators in the five boroughs of New York City alone.

This data took into account all elevators located within the residential, retail, and commercial properties in New York City.

Elevators play a crucial role in transporting people as well as cargo in Brooklyn and thousands of Brooklynites use them every day. However, sometimes elevators are known to malfunction, causing injury or worse, death.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 26 people lose their lives in elevator-related accidents every year in America.

On average, 10,200 people suffer injuries in elevator accidents every year and the majority of these accidents are caused by some sort of malfunction in elevator doors, vulnerabilities in passenger safety guidelines, and misalignment in carriages.

What causes these accidents? As per the Consumer Watch website, there are several ways an elevator can malfunction, for example, defects in elevator’s door operation, pulley systems, wiring, or poor maintenance procedures.

However, property owners in Brooklyn, NY are legally responsible for taking proper care of their buildings, and thus, the elevators on the building premises.

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries in an elevator accident, you may be entitled to damages if the property owner is proved to be negligent in maintaining the elevator.

An attorney from the Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff law firm can evaluate the specifics of your accident and find out whether someone else was responsible for your injuries.

If it turns out that someone is indeed liable, we can help you receive compensation that you deserve to cover medical bills and other losses related to your injury.

Risks Involved with Elevator Injuries

Elevators are quite convenient and safe generally, but due to malfunctions (that could have been prevented had the property owner taken proper care of them) elevator-related accidents in Brooklyn are more common than you may think.

If you have ever been injured in such an accident, hiring an experienced Brooklyn elevator accident lawyer can mean the difference between winning and losing your rightful claim.

According to multiple studies conducted by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commissions and other agencies, on average, 26 people die in elevator accidents and thousands more get injured every year.

Elevators should be regularly examined and maintained by the property owner or occupier, generally through the contracted services of elevator maintenance professionals. When maintenance is ignored or poorly performed, results can be catastrophic.

Injuries caused by elevators can be in the form of lacerations, bruises, fractures, serious head injuries, amputations of toes, fingers, or even legs and arms. In some cases, elevator accidents can also result in death by blunt force trauma or decapitation.

These unfortunate and often avoidable accidents could be the fault of maintenance professionals, property owner, or other parties like electricians who installed defective wiring that failed the elevator system.

In some cases, it is also possible that elevator manufacturer sold a unit or replacement parts that were faulty when they left the factory, leading to a component failure at a critical point in time.

Who is Responsible for Elevator Accidents in Brooklyn, NY?

In Brooklyn, property owners are responsible for elevator injuries caused by malfunctioning or defective elevator. Depending upon the source of the accident, the manufacturer and maintenance professionals may also be responsible.

In order to determine the cause of the accident and hold the liable parties responsible, a well-versed Brooklyn elevator accident attorney at RMFW law firm will team up with the most proficient and reliable experts in the country.

In our experience, here are the most common causes of elevator accidents we’ve come across:

  • Defective wiring or malfunction in the elevator control
  • A malfunction in a pulley or unbalanced leveling
  • Poor maintenance practices or lack of proper inspections
  • Incomplete repairs

Elevator accidents that can result in severe injury are:

  • An elevator carriage stopping out of level or between the floors
  • Falls in the elevator shaft
  • An elevator drops or stops suddenly
  • Elevator doors close on people exiting or entering the elevator car

The civil justice system is very efficient in sending a strong message to Brooklyn property owners regarding their responsibility for ensuring passengers’ safety.

A seasoned elevator accident attorney can help you understand your rights and determine whether legal action is a possibility.

Is the Elevator Company Responsible?

Elevator Accident Laws

Generally, in larger buildings, the maintenance company that’s responsible for servicing the elevator has a contract with the owner and caretaker of the property to ensure the elevators are in good, safe working condition. These properties typically have an elevator company representative on-call or on-site at all times.

Most elevator accidents in Brooklyn, NY occur due to a failure to maintain and service the elevators appropriately by the on-site elevator company rep.

In case the property doesn’t have an on-site elevator company, Brooklyn laws clearly state that the property owner is responsible for hiring well-trained professionals to check, maintain, and repair the elevators on a routine basis. The failure to do so often results in catastrophic incidents more often than not.

Responsibilities of a Landlord in Brooklyn, NY

The Department of Buildings in the city has set up an “elevator unit” which is responsible for overseeing the proper maintenance of elevators in Brooklyn, NY. If you see or hear of any defect in any elevator in your building, you can call 311.

This way, the authorities will assign an inspection that will hopefully result in a swift resolution of the issue before someone gets hurt.

This elevator enforcement program especially focuses on landlords who are known to have elevator problems on a consistent basis.

The program works in many ways – enforcement, surveys, periodic inspections, accident investigations, and complaint inspections. In some cases, it’s an oversight on part of the landlords, but the fact is many landlords simply don’t pay attention to proper elevator maintenance practices.

How to Prove Liability in an Elevator Accident Case in Brooklyn, NY?

personal injury lawsuit

If you have ever been involved in an elevator accident and as a result, suffered injuries, you may be able to claim damages.

This personal injury lawsuit is a kind of negligence lawsuit because there responsible party’s negligence caused injury to the victim.

To win this kind of claim, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant was responsible for handling or servicing the elevator.

Depending on the accident, defendants may include property owners, property management companies, tenants, homeowner’s associations, elevator maintenance companies, corporations, retail stores, and developers.

The plaintiff must establish that an issue with the elevator was responsible for the accident. They must also prove that the defendant knew about the issue and failed to take required steps to rectify the issue, like placing signs of “out of order” on the elevator, halting its operation, and calling the maintenance professionals.

Or the plaintiff must prove that the defendant should have been aware of the issue and failed to take reasonable action.

How to File an Elevator Accident Lawsuit in Brooklyn, NY?

Hundreds of thousands of people in Brooklyn depend on the elevators every day, and when these elevators or escalators malfunction, results are often disastrous. An elevator accident can happen anywhere, such as in:

  • Apartment buildings
  • Office buildings
  • Schools and universities
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels
  • Retail stores
  • Airports

Personal injury lawsuits that originate from elevator accidents are quite complicated. Depending on the circumstances, different local and federal laws may apply to the case.

For example, many elevator injuries and deaths happen on construction sites. Since laborers perform various kinds of tasks from elevated heights, they are always at-risk and Brooklyn has enacted specialized laws designed to protect them.

Also, elevator injury lawsuits can be filed against several parties, including the property owners, elevator repair companies, elevator manufacturers, developers, homeowners, and other responsible parties who failed to ensure safety to elevator passengers.

A proven and sagacious lawyer who has litigated numerous elevator accidents will collect crucial evidence such as security footage in the elevator, medical records, inspection data, and other pertinent information to help insurance companies and juries understand how such a serious accident can change the victim’s life.

While litigating an elevator accident injury case, a lawyer must obtain several important documents and other items, including:

  • Security video from inside the elevator which malfunctioned and caused the accident.
  • All operation records for the elevator in question for a period of 5 years prior to the accident.
  • A copy of the contract with the defendant elevator maintenance company, according to which they provided maintenance for the elevators at the defendant property.
  • All documents regarding all two-year, five-year, and Local Law 10 inspection, including a full-load inspection performed on the said elevator by the maintenance company.
  • All projected costs pertaining to the elevator from any and all contractors or other parties.
  • Copies of all written communication between the elevator company and the building owner for a period of 5 years prior to the date of the accident.
  • The inspection reports prepared by the elevator company regarding the elevator in question for 5 years prior to the date of the accident.
  • All the repair recommendations as well as proposals (if any) related to the elevator in question submitted to the building owner/managing executive by the elevator company for 5 years prior to the date of the accident.
  • The names of all employees of the elevator company who inspected the elevator in question for 5 years prior to the date of the accident.
  • All the service reports prepared by the elevator company for the elevator in question 5 years prior to the date of the accident.
  • The names of all inspection agencies (if any) used by the elevator company of building owner/ managing executive to examine the elevator in question, along with the names of the insurance carriers of said agencies.
  • Bills/invoices submitted by the elevator company to the property owner for 5 years prior to the date of the accident.
  • A complete copy of all pertinent insurance policies and additional insurance policies, including (but not limited to) all self-insured retentions and any other kind of insurance that was in effect on the date of the elevator accident.
  • The maintenance log created by the elevator company for the elevator in question.
  • All the records of any modifications performed on the elevator in question.
  • All invoices, canceled checks, bills, and/or other evidence of payment for one year, two years, five years, and Local Law 10 inspection.

The Local Law 10/81 testing and 2-year inspections were discontinued on January 1st, 2009. Here are the test cycles and inspections that are required now:

  • Category 1: Except as otherwise made available by the commissioner, January 1st through December 31st every year.
  • Category 3: Except as otherwise made available by the commissioner, within 3 years from the month the final certificate is issued for a new elevator or within 3 years from the month the latest category 3 periodic testing was performed on a currently-in-operation elevator.
  • Category 5: Except as otherwise made available by the commissioner, within 5 years from the month the final certificate was issued for a new elevator or within 5 years from the month of the latest category 5 periodic testing was performed on a currently-in-operation elevator.

The lawyer is also required to obtain these documents.

It should be noted that in many cases, that elevator accidents take place on construction sites when the workers use manually-operated hoists to travel between the floors of a building.

Brooklyn has enacted special laws to protect workers in these types of situations, and in these cases, the building owners as well as contractors on the construction site may be held responsible for the injuries caused by an elevator accident.

Get in Touch With Our Brooklyn Elevator Accident Attorneys

If you or someone you know has suffered from injuries due to a defective or otherwise unsafe elevator in Brooklyn, call our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at RMFW Law at 212-697-9280 or write to us here for an objective review of your accident case.

We will help you understand your rights and all the available legal options.

It’s likely that the elevator company or the owner of the property where your accident occurred could be held liable for your injuries. In that case, they will have to compensate you for medical bills as well as the emotional trauma and other losses you had to undergo due to your injuries.

At Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, & Wolff law firm, we have been providing legal guidance to the victims of elevator accidents in Brooklyn for 96+ years. We work day and night to make sure our clients receive the best financial benefits required to heal from their injuries.

You’ve already suffered enough. You shouldn’t have to worry about paying your medical bills too. Call us today to find out how we can help!