- September 28, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Premises Liability
Apartment Building Landlords Are Responsible for Keeping Elevators Safe for Use
Everything in life comes with risks; each individual should consider them carefully when deciding on their actions. Of course, some behaviors and activities involve significantly more risk than others. In general, riding an elevator isn’t something that tends to raise a red flag. Unless a building is on fire, using the elevator should never be dangerous, and most of the time it isn’t.
Modern safety measures include plenty of redundancies to prevent malfunctions and to ensure that any problems 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 sometimes happen.
The state of Georgia holds landlords legally responsible for the safe operation and proper maintenance of the elevators in their buildings. This encompasses obtaining necessary permits, keeping inspection records for the required period of time, and making sure inspections are performed on schedule. For power-operated elevators, this includes conducting basic inspections every six months, as well as complete load testing every five years, in order 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 establishing premises liability is typically straightforward when an accident happens.
Unmaintained Elevators Can Be Dangerous
Types of Elevator Accidents
Without proper maintenance, the number of things that could go wrong with an elevator are significant. Simply thinking about them is frightening. They include, but are not limited to:
- Sudden rises or drops due to mechanical or electrical issues
- Poorly maintained ropes
- Missing components
- Belts that are worn out
- Broken door stops
- Loose parts
- Entrapment of cars
- Broken pulleys
- Missing safety catches
- Non-posted weight limits and warnings.
While the responsibility for producing a quality working product initially lies with the elevator manufacturer, once it is installed in an apartment building and inspected, the landlord assumes oversight for managing the maintenance and ensuring that the elevators operate safely. Most apartment elevator accidents result from poor maintenance, which is ultimately negligence of the landlord.
Apartment Elevator Injuries
When an elevator is not properly serviced and maintained, accidents happen. And, as you may expect, the resulting injuries and emotional distress can be significant. The most common physical injuries suffered in elevator accidents include:
- Bruises and contusions
- Broken bones
- Head injuries (like concussions)
- Internal injuries
- Neck injuries
- Electrocution burns
- Damage to the spinal cord
- Amputation (fingers, toes, arms, and legs).
In addition to the physical injuries, the emotional impact of being in an apartment elevator accident is considerable. Depending upon the circumstances of the incident, the trauma can be significant, and its impact can have long-lasting and life-changing effects. These intangible injuries are very real and must be taken seriously.
Sometimes Elevator Accidents Result in Death
Nothing is more devastating than when an elevator accident results in the loss of life. One of these tragic elevator accidents happened at the 444 Suites, a student housing complex in Northeast Atlanta, at the end of August 2021. Three friends were exiting the elevator when it reportedly went into free-fall. The last one to exit, 18-year-old JauMarcus McFarland, was caught halfway out and was crushed between the floor and the elevator’s ceiling. He was trapped there for approximately an hour before rescue crews could extricate him, and he later died from his injuries at the Atlanta Medical Center.
Journalists attempting to cover the story say they have kicked off the property and later provided a statement from management, blaming the incident on residents’ overloading the elevator and claiming that the elevator was up to date on maintenance and inspections. However, residents say that the elevator has had consistent issues and that their past complaints had been ignored. One was even able to provide a picture she took a month earlier of the elevator’s certificate, indicating that it was a year overdue for inspection.
If someone you love has lost their lives in an apartment elevator accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Families Harmed By Poorly Maintained Elevators Can Sue For Compensation
Who Is Responsible for Apartment Elevator Accident Injuries?
Properly maintained elevators don’t simply collapse for no reason. 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.
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. Never hesitate to contact an elevator accident attorney for advice and counsel on a possible case.
Compensation Awards for Elevator Injuries
Many apartments with elevators in Atlanta have been host to many accidents and injuries. If you were injured in one, you might be eligible for compensation.
As a victim, you may be wondering what type of damages you can receive. Of course, the answer to this question is dependent upon the accident you were in and its impact on your life. When you file a premises liability lawsuit against your landlord for an elevator accident, you would need to prove the impact on your life. If your attorney can prove your landlord was negligent, you may be entitled to economic, non-economic, and perhaps even punitive damages.
Economic damages often immediately come to mind when an accident occurs. These are concrete and quantifiable. Examples include medical bills (emergency care, follow-up care, medication, and rehabilitation), long-term care, and lost wages and benefits (present, past and future). The ability to look forward is important when determining the damages in your lawsuit. Severe injuries often require long-term medical treatment and even personal care. Your apartment elevator attorney can help you identify the totality of these costs, making sure to calculate future expenses accurately. The party responsible for the elevator accident should compensate you for all the costs associated with your injuries.
Non-economic damages are less tangible and more difficult to quantify, yet they are very real. As a victim of an elevator accident, you know all too well how real the intangibles can be. According to law, you may be eligible to receive compensation for emotional trauma from the event as well as for the pain and pain and suffering associated with your injuries. An attorney experienced in elevator accident lawsuits can help prove these damages and maximize your compensation accordingly.
Finally, if your landlord was found to be extremely negligent, the courts may award punitive damages. Designed to both punish the negligent party and deter others from behaving in a similar manner, these are not commonly awarded but may be when circumstances indicate. Your premises liability attorney can let you know if this type of damages would be applicable with regard to your experience.
Without a doubt, elevator accidents result in both physical and emotional injuries. Therefore, it is likely that your settlement will be a combination of these types of damages.
What to Do if You Have Suffered Apartment Elevator Injuries
The Right Steps Can Make a Real Difference If You Have Been Injured
Suppose you are a victim of an apartment elevator accident. In that case, there are some very important steps you must take both to manage your health and to maximize your chances of getting an appropriate settlement.
Immediately contact first responders, including the police and paramedics. Your health and well-being must always be your priority. Additionally, the reports they produce can play a critical role in your case. They are valuable evidence. It makes sense to request copies of these reports to your attorney. That said, if you neglected to obtain them, your attorney could request them on your behalf.
If possible, take photos and videos of your surroundings and any injuries you have sustained. Your cell phone is the perfect tool for this. These visuals can prove to be a critical piece of the puzzle as negligence is determined, and damages are awarded.
Finally, identify an experienced and reputable premises liability attorney and contact the firm as soon as possible. Timing is an important component of cases like this.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one because of an elevator malfunction, call The Stoddard Firm at 470-467-2200 to learn more about your rights and how we can help.