Workers’ Compensation or Personal Injury: What’s the Right Choice for an Elevator Accident?

Exploring Your Legal Options After an Elevator Accident

Elevator accidents are more common than most people think, and they often cause serious injuries or fatalities. A Chicago elevator made news in 2018 when it fell 84 floors. Surprisingly, none of the visitors required hospitalization. This is an uncommon outcome. In 2018, a Maryland employee fell 20 feet in an elevator shaft when he became trapped between a wall and an elevator counterweight. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Employees are often the victims of elevator accidents, and the outcomes are often severe.

Employees Hurt by Elevator Accidents

Workers injured in elevator accidents can often seek damages through workers’ compensation. In these situations, workers’ compensation allows an injured employee to continue collecting pay while healing, have their medical bills paid for by workers’ compensation, and protect themselves from retaliation at work.

Other Types of Elevator Accidents

In other situations, visitors or customers are the victims of elevator accidents. A personal injury lawsuit is often the most viable option in this type of accident. Many businesses carry general liability insurance to cover legal expenses and ensure that injured visitors get the compensation they deserve. It’s important to note that you may not be able to seek damages if you’re simply in an elevator that falls. You must have measurable damages from the fall. This often includes medical bills, lost income if you are required to take time off of work, and pain and suffering.

Figuring Out Who’s Responsible

One complex aspect of elevator accidents is culpability. There are many parties who may have some responsibility when an elevator malfunction and causes an accident. The companies that create elevators are responsible for producing a high-quality and reliable product. In a products liability case, the court determines whether or not the product has an inherent defect that could reasonably cause injury to users. If an elevator is unreasonably dangerous due to a manufacturing error or poor manufacturing practices, the company may be responsible.

In other cases, repair companies are held liable for the damage caused by an elevator accident. Many building owners use outside repair companies to keep elevators running smoothly. Repair companies must follow recommended maintenance schedules and use proper materials to carry out repairs. If they veer off the recommended schedule or try to cut corners by using cheaper materials, they could be on the hook for damages. For example, if a repair company forgets to oil an elevator cable during routine maintenance and the cable later snaps, the repair company could be named in a lawsuit.

Just as the building owner is responsible for hiring a repair company, they are also responsible for the maintenance of the equipment in their building. If the building owner does not follow the recommended maintenance schedule, hires an unqualified repair company, or allows a malfunctioning elevator to remain in service, they may be at fault for any subsequent accidents.

We’re Here to Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve After an Elevator Accident

Whether you’re considering a workers’ compensation case or a personal injury case, you need skilled legal counsel on your side. Call the Fairfax office of Hilton & Somer at (703) 782-8349 to take the next step in your case.

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