Escalators are part of our common, everyday life. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Consumer Product Safety Commission, 17,000 people every year are injured on escalators and 30 people die. If you or someone you love was injured on an escalator, here is more information about your options and what you should do next.
Safety Standards for Escalators
It is important to note that escalators are governed by a set of standards established by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American National Standards Institute Escalator Committee. These are the standards by which an escalator should operate, however, unfortunately, many escalators in the United States do not adhere to these regulations. For example, these standards clearly state that every escalator step should have brightly colored borders or painted footprints. However, you will notice that most escalators do not have either of those.
Types of Escalator Accidents
Some of the specific reasons that an accident and catastrophic injury may occur on an escalator include the following:
- Broken or missing steps
- Loose or missing screws
- Missing sections of escalator track
- Defective design or manufacturing defect of the escalator parts or components
- Clothing or shoes becoming caught in the escalator
- Sudden stops
- Sudden changes in speed
Seek Medical Attention
Your first step after an escalator accident is to seek medical attention immediately. While you may not feel that you are severely harmed, it is always important to have a medical professional evaluate you for any unseen or internal injuries.
These types of accidents often result in broken bones, fractured bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, bruising, lacerations, sprains, paralysis or even death. Having a professional medical diagnosis not only gives you a medical plan to regain your health but also establishes that you did have injuries and needed treatment. This is important if you make the decision to file a claim to receive compensation for your injuries later.
If you were injured on an escalator, after receiving medical care, your next step is to determine liability. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the accident, one or several parties may be liable for your injuries. Whoever is determined to be liable and responsible for your injuries will be responsible for paying any medical bills, lost wages, or other compensation related to your injury.
Premises Liability Law
If you were injured on an escalator, you may be able to find the building liable. You will have to prove that the property owner knew, or should have known, that there were hazards or dangers associated with the escalator prior to your injury and did not take proactive steps to fix the escalator or warn patrons or guests of the building that the dangers existed. If you can prove that the property owner was negligent in their failure to correct or warn the public about a hazardous or dangerous condition, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
Product Liability Law
Property owners are not always responsible or at fault for accidents on their property involving escalators. The product itself may have been defective or malfunctioning in some way that caused the accident and injuries. Product defects are brought in court under product liability claims. If the manufacturer placed in the stream of commerce any product that was defective or malfunctioning, they will oftentimes be liable and responsible for any injuries that occurred. Escalators are composed of several complex pieces of machinery that must be maintained in order to keep them in safe operation. Any malfunctioning parts could lead to an accident. If the business owner failed to follow protocol and maintain the escalator or service it properly, even if there is a manufacturing defect, some of the liability may rest with the business owner.
Personal Injury Law
If you are attempting to receive compensation for your injuries related to your elevator accident, you may need to build a strong personal injury case. To develop a personal injury case, an investigation must include any testimony from witnesses, police and medical reports, documentation regarding negligent behavior such as poor maintenance or equipment failure, photos and even expert witness testimony if needed.
After an investigation is completed, a determination needs to be made regarding fault and liability. Again, this may be the building owners or the manufacturer. Additionally, it is important to note that California is a comparative negligence state. If you were in any way responsible for the accident, your amount of monetary compensation will be reduced by the amount of fault attributed to you regarding the escalator accident.
Avoiding Escalator Accidents
In order to attempt to avoid escalator accidents and suffering catastrophic personal injuries, follow these safety tips and suggestions.
- Ensure that your shoelaces are tied correctly.
- Always hold a child’s hand and never permit a child to sit or play on the escalator.
- The center of the escalator step is the safest place to stand.
- Always step off safely at the end of the escalator. Always avoid the sides of the steps where entrapment often occurs.
- Never bring a stroller, walker, or cart with a child inside on an escalator.
- Face forward and always hold on to the handrail.
These safety tips may not help prevent injuries related to faulty design or manufacturer defects, however, they will help avoid severe injuries that are oftentimes avoidable. Always use caution when using an escalator. Beware of the potential hazards and dangers, and never take any chances with untied shoes or loose clothing.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injuries due to malfunctioning escalators can be caused by many reasons. If you or a loved one were injured on an escalator, get the legal advice and representation you need immediately. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today at Silverthorne Attorneys. For a complimentary consultation of your case, contact us at (949) 234-6034 or online here.