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Elevator Accident Highlights Dangers

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An elevator accident killed a 30-year-old mechanic on the Upper West Side of Manhattan last Friday, according to news sources. The worker was in an elevator shaft at 75 West End Avenue when an empty elevator car descended three floors, crushing him.

A man who lives in the building said that the elevators had been malfunctioning for years, a statement echoed by others. According to Department of Buildings (DOB) records, there have been 12 violations since 2003. Three of these are major violations for poor maintenance in 2014. These violations remain open. The DOB is investigating the most recent death.

Between 25 and 30 people die each year in elevator accidents in the United States, according to an article in Slate magazine. These accidents are primarily caused by:

  • A malfunction or defect that causes the car to drop quickly within the elevator shaft
  • Doors opening without car being present
  • Elevator car not lining up with the floor
  • Wiring malfunctions, often the result of malfunctioning sprinkler systems, building fires or floods, that result in power failures or electrical injuries

People injured in elevator accidents suffer from injuries caused by trip and falls, especially when the car is not level with the floor. They can also suffer an electrical accident or lacerations if they become caught in the door or other mechanism. Fatalities are usually the result of a person falling down the shaft because of an open door or having the car plunge to the bottom of the shaft.

When elevator accidents are the result of negligence by the building owner, shoddy work by the repair or maintenance contractor, or defects in the manufacturing or installation process, the injured and those whose loved ones died may have legal recourse. They may be eligible to obtain compensation for the injuries, expenses and losses caused by the accident.