At around 11:15 a.m. on December 8, 2022, two individuals fell three stories down an elevator shaft at a Target store in the Bronx. One suffered non-life threatening injuries while the other was left in critical condition.
Reports indicate that the two individuals, one a Target Security Guard and the other a 16-year-old boy, had an altercation in the store. Some media outlets have suggested that this began after the younger victim was accused of shoplifting. The employee was attempting to escort the teenager out of the store when the situation escalated. According to police, the two both bumped into elevator doors which opened, causing them to fall down the shaft. While this is most certainly an unusual scenario but, still, this isn’t what we expect from an elevator in good repair.
The teenager fell on top of the elevator cab, which was not flush with the floor, and suffered non-life threatening injuries. The store employee fell between the elevator cab and the shaft wall and down to the pit of the shaft. First responders were able to rescue the teenager relatively quickly and take him to Harlem Hospital for treatment. It took longer to safely recover the employee who laid at the bottom of the shaft as first responders secured the elevator and sent medical technicians down to treat him. He was eventually hoisted up by firefighters and taken to the hospital.
We hope both individuals are able to make a full recovery after this harrowing event. It is unclear what caused the elevator doors to open, but a full investigation should be made to prevent future accidents from happening.
It is important to note apparent elevator safety issues that may have contributed to this accident. Elevator doors are in place to prevent people from falling down an open shaft. These doors should not unexpectedly open and should not open unless the elevator cab is level with that floor. The fact that the doors opened when pushed and the elevator car was three levels down raises important questions about the state of this particular elevator:
- When did this elevator last receive maintenance?
- Were there outstanding repairs that still needed to be made?
- Were there any recent complaints about the elevator?
- Was the store aware of these safety issues?
In New York, the Department of Buildings (DOB) enforces rules and regulations regarding elevator safety. Those responsible for elevators, such as building owners or maintenance companies, must adhere to these rules. Failure to do so can leave them liable for accidents that occur as a result. These rules require all elevators to be inspected twice each year by an inspection agency. Additionally, building owners are required to keep an active maintenance contract with an approved elevator agency. Said agency is responsible for any needed repairs, maintenance, or part replacements. Building owners are required to keep a log of all maintenance work done on their elevators.
The DOB will likely conduct an investigation that will take the store’s maintenance records into account.
Falls down elevator shafts are terrifying incidents which often result in serious injuries, including death. The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have seen firsthand how an elevator accident can upend one’s life. One of our past recoveries includes a $7,000,000 settlement for a man who fell 30 feet down the elevator shaft at the store he was employed in. The client, a married father of three, sustained crush injuries to his feet and ankles, which ultimately required nine surgeries. His mobility is now limited, and he can only walk short distances with a cane.
In another case, our attorneys represented the family of a young man who died as a result of an elevator accident. The 25-year-old man, who was a father to two young children, was stuck in the elevator of a commercial building because of a power outage. After waiting for some time, he attempted to escape by trying to pry open the elevator doors and sliding out into the hallway. In the process, he fell through the exposure caused by the misleveled elevator car and plunged 50 feet down the elevator shaft. As a result of the injuries sustained during the fall, he died shortly afterwards. Our attorneys sued multiple parties on the family’s behalf. The case was fiercely defended. After multiple discussions and mediations, the case settled for $7.2 million.
Because of the serious nature of elevator accidents, building owners, maintenance companies, and other responsible parties need to adhere strictly to elevator rules and regulations. If they are negligent in their duties, innocent people can and have suffered.
To speak to an experienced elevator accident lawyer about a potential case, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form, and one of our attorneys will reach out to you shortly. Our lawyers have dedicated their careers to fighting for the rights of injury victims. Since 2020, we’ve recovered over half a billion dollars for clients harmed in serious accidents. If you are struggling because of an elevator accident or other serious accident caused by another party’s negligence, please reach out to an attorney to discuss your legal rights.