- September 28, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Premises Liability
Unless a building is on fire, using the elevator should never be dangerous. Most of the time, it isn’t. Modern safety measures include plenty of redundancies to prevent malfunctions, and to ensure that any malfunctions that do occur will not present a danger to life or health. Unfortunately, not all apartment buildings follow these safety measures, which is why serious elevator accidents still sometimes happen.
The state of Georgia holds landlords legally responsible for safe operation and proper maintenance of the elevators in their buildings. This includes obtaining necessary permits, keeping inspection records for the required period of time, and making sure inspections are actually performed on schedule. For power-operated elevators, this includes basic inspections every six months, as well as full load testing every five years, to ensure that the elevator’s rating is accurate.
To promote accountability for landlords and peace of mind for residents and guests, each elevator car must have a posted load limit and an inspection certificate prominently displayed in a tamper-resistant frame, so that passengers can see the inspection dates.
The responsibility for following elevator safety protocol cannot be relinquished or transferred from the elevator’s owner, so when an accident happens, establishing premises liability is typically straightforward.
A Teen Lost His Life to a Collapsing Elevator in Atlanta Last Month
One of these tragic elevator accidents happened at the 444 Suites student housing complex in Northeast Atlanta at the end of August. Three friends were exiting the elevator when it reportedly went into freefall. The last one to exit, 18-year-old JauMarcus McFarland, was apparently caught halfway out, crushed between the floor and the elevator’s ceiling. He was trapped there for approximately an hour before rescue crews were able to extricate him, and later died from his injuries at the Atlanta Medical Center.
Journalists attempting to cover the story say they were kicked off the property and later provided with a statement from management, blaming the incident on residents overloading the elevator and claiming that the elevator is up to date on maintenance and inspections. However, residents say that the elevator has had consistent issues, and that their past complaints have been ignored. One was even able to provide a picture she says she took a month earlier of the elevator’s certificate, indicating that it was a year overdue for inspection.
An investigation into the incident is currently ongoing.
Families Harmed by Poorly Maintained Elevators Can Sue for Compensation
Properly maintained elevators don’t simply collapse for no reason. Currently available safety features can even prevent overload damage, by locking the elevator in place when an excessive load is detected.
When an elevator accident happens, or any accident for that matter, the most convenient option for a negligent landlord is usually to blame the victim or the innocent bystanders. Survivors and family members who think they’ve done something wrong, or that the landlord was helpless to stop what happened, are less likely to pursue the compensation they’re owed. It’s a common tactic that succeeds all too often on a psychological level, but legally, it doesn’t hold water.
Elevator accidents are preventable, and the responsibility for preventing them falls squarely on the individual or business that owns the building. In the vast majority of cases, it really is that simple. When survivors realize this, they not only have a much better chance of fair compensation, they can help force property managers to make safety the priority it should be.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one to an elevator malfunction, call The Stoddard Firm to learn more about your rights and how we can help.