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When Elevators Fall

Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers discuss elevator accidents. When elevators came into use in the 19th century, they were cause for both delight and terror. They were used to lower coal miners into mines, or to lift tourists in the city to view the heights of London. When first introduced, elevator failures were common, and deadly. More than 150 years later, many people are still afraid of elevator accidents.

Realistically, that is a very rare event. But accidents can still happen. Fairly recently, a New Jersey plaintiff was awarded $1.5 million when a cable snapped and the man broke both ankles and both legs. A Maryland repair technician was killed when a hydraulic elevator fell on him.

Causes of Injuries

But those cases are rare. While more than 10,000 people are injured in elevators every year, fewer than 30 injuries result in death.

Most elevator injuries do not involve plummeting. They occur because of:

  • Overcrowding
  • Entrapment during fire
  • Broken pulley systems
  • Faulty wiring, causing a stopped car or electrocution
  • People stepping into an open shaft
  • Inept inspections and poor maintenance
  • Failure of the car to line up with the floor
  • Improper leveling with elevator and hallway floors

Generally speaking, the older the elevator, the greater the risk of injury. Many city apartment building elevators go back to the 1930s or before. These elevators are not only hard to replace and repair, they may have been built to less-stringent quality specifications. As such, they account for a disproportionate number of injuries.

These older elevators typically have limited safety features, such as callout phones, hold-door buttons, power backup, smoke detectors, or alarm buttons. These limitations may add to the potential for a products liability claim.

Very often, the victims of elevator accidents are repair crew members working beneath the car.


There are more than 900,000 working elevators in the United States, compared to only about 35,000 escalators. As such, it is surprising that escalator injuries outnumber elevator injuries.

The reason has to do with wide-open structure of escalators. People, especially children, often fall off of them. They can get their fingers and shoes and hair caught at either end of the escalator. People who do not move quickly to exit the escalator run the risk of being trampled.

People having panic attacks on elevators tend to stay in the car. The same problem poses greater danger in an open space on an escalator.

But the majority of escalator injuries are minor and do not require ER visits.

Products Liability

Elevator companies and owners of buildings with elevators in them know that elevator maintenance is important to their overall safety. Successful products liability claims must show that the problem was not preventable, even with a reasonable amount of diligence, and that the injury was the result of an elevator that was manufactured or installed with a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a marketing defect – such as incorrect weight support information.

Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Seek Compensation for Elevator and Escalator Injuries

Once an injury occurs as a result of a defective or poorly manufactured elevator or escalator, you need the services of an experienced Philadelphia defective products lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us today at 215-569-8488 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including PhiladelphiaDelaware County and Chester County, as well as across Delaware and New Jersey.