Elevators are convenient and generally regarded as safe – statistically speaking, you have less than .01 percent chance of being hurt in an elevator (according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission). However, machines can malfunction and when they do, injuries happen.
If you’ve been hurt in an elevator accident in Texas, you should know that you have a right to compensation for your injuries and medical bills under Texas law.
Injuries Caused by Sudden Elevator Falls
When an elevator suddenly and unexpectedly drops (or shoots upwards), the people inside can get hurt. Some of the most commonly reported injuries associated with elevator malfunctions include:
- Sprained or broken bones
- Fractured skulls
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
Depending on the severity of your injuries and the medical treatment that was required afterwards, you could recover compensation from the negligent party (the person or company who’s at-fault for the elevator malfunctioning). So who’s at-fault? We’ll cover that next.
Making a Claim for Compensation Against the Negligent Party
When you’re hurt in any accident, elevator or otherwise, and you want to make a claim for compensation, Texas law states that you must prove someone else was at-fault for the incident. In other words, you can’t just point fingers – you must show that someone’s negligence lead to the accident, and the accident led to your injuries.
Sometimes, proving negligence is simple. Other times, however, the evidence isn’t as clear and your case isn’t simply proven. In these instances, you might consider hiring a personal injury attorney to build your case for you. Most PI attorneys work on a contingency fee, meaning you won’t pay them upfront and not until they win your case for you – if they don’t win, you don’t pay a dime.
In my experience as a personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, I’ve seen three different parties who might be negligent for your elevator accident (and therefore obligated to pay you for your injuries).
The Building’s Owner
It is the responsibility of the owner or manager of the building to make sure that all elevators are kept up to code and up to date with safety inspections. They must also implement emergency rescue plans in the event of an elevator incident, and must properly train building staff in these areas.
If the building’s owner failed to do these things and you were hurt in their elevator as a result, you have a case against them.
The Elevator Service Company
In most cases, the building’s owner or manager will hire an outside company to tend to the regular maintenance of elevators since it’s a specialized task. The service company may be negligent if they failed to properly maintain, repair or service the elevators. They can also be found negligent if any of their work was flawed, or if they failed to maintain accurate records of their servicing.
The Elevator Manufacturer
If the elevator itself is defective, a product liability case can be brought against the company that designed and manufactured the elevator. Examples of such negligence include any flaws inherent in the elevator’s design, a failure to properly test and inspect the elevator for defects before releasing it to market, and failing to warn of hazards, risks and dangers related to the elevator (including instructions for proper safe use).
Do You Need an Attorney?
Not every personal injury case requires hiring an attorney. For instance, if you weren’t badly hurt and didn’t have to go to the doctor, then your bills will be low and you can likely handle the case on your own. However, if you’ve been seriously injured in an elevator accident and are worried about your mounting medical bills, days you missed work and how you’re going to prove your case, hiring a lawyer could be a smart move.