A city like New York, full of soaring high-rises, has tens of thousands of elevators in it. In fact, NYC holds one of the largest stocks of elevators in the world. A 2017 report by the New York City Department of Buildings stated that there are over 84,000 elevators within city limits. The report explains that not only is New York’s population of elevators one of the largest in the world, it’s also one of the oldest. As a result, elevator accidents in the city are troublingly common. Even when elevators are old, building owners and property management companies remain obligated by law to keep elevators in good, safe working order for tenants or residents, as well as for their visitors and customers.
When you’re hurt in an elevator accident in New York, you may be entitled to money damages to cover the costs of your injuries, which would be awarded through a personal injury lawsuit. Learn about the process of suing after being injured in a New York elevator accident below, and contact an experienced New York elevator accident attorney for more information.
The basic components of an elevator accident lawsuit
Any successful lawsuit based on an accident will need to include proof of the elements of a claim for a personal injury. In the event of an elevator accident, these elements are:
- The accident victim was a resident, lessee, or allowed guest at the building in question;
- The victim suffered injuries that were caused by the elevator in that building;
- The elevator caused these injuries because it was defectively manufactured and/or improperly maintained by the building’s owners and managers; and,
- The victim suffered losses resulting from the accident, such as financial losses from paying medical bills or missing work after the incident.
If any of these elements cannot be shown, then a lawsuit for damages is likely to fail. For example, if the victim had back injuries that predated the elevator accident, and the victim cannot prove that the accident made those injuries measurably worse, then the claim will fail. However, it is important to discuss such a claim with an experienced attorney before abandoning a claim for elevator accident damages.
Figure out who is responsible for the elevator’s failure, and remember that it could be more than one party
One of the most important steps in bringing a lawsuit for personal injuries is including the proper individuals and companies as defendants in your claim. Choosing the right defendants often depends on knowing the reason that the accident occurred and can require weeks of investigation to determine. In many cases, fixtures such as elevators fail due to poor maintenance by building managers and owners, or a reluctance to make repairs due to cost, but this is not always the case. Perhaps the building’s owner was careful in having the elevator regularly serviced by a reputable maintenance company and had no reason to know that the elevator had serious mechanical issues. In that case, the building’s owner might not have been negligent, but the maintenance company may have been careless in performing inspections and failed to detect a major mechanical malfunction. In other cases, the elevator may have had a fatal flaw in its design or manufacture, making the original manufacturer or designer responsible for the accident. Often, more than one party is responsible for an elevator accident, and a seasoned New York elevator accident lawyer will have the necessary experience and resources to investigate these incidents thoroughly to determine the identity of all responsible parties.
Gather evidence needed to support injury claims
No lawsuit can succeed without evidence to support the elements of the claim. In the case of an elevator accident, here are some of the types of evidence that an attorney can help gather to support a lawsuit for elevator accident injuries:
- Medical records: Accident victims will need to provide evidence showing the severity and extent of their injuries, as well as the expected time needed to recover, and whether they will have permanent disabilities related to their injuries. A medical expert may also be asked to testify to these issues in a deposition or at trial.
- Documentation of the defective elevator: A court will need to see some form of evidence of the manner and causes of the elevator’s failure. This could come in the form of photos from the time of the accident, security camera footage, testimony from a mechanical expert who examined the elevator, or all three.
- Records of maintenance and repairs to the elevator: The building’s owner and/or property management company will need to provide records regarding the maintenance provided to the elevator over the years. If such records can’t be produced, then the building manager will have an uphill battle in trying to prove that they carried out their legal duty to keep the premises safe for tenants and visitors.
Finding the right lawyer is a critical first step
If you believe that you’re owed damages after an elevator accident in New York City, finding the right attorney is the first step in getting the money you need to help you pay for medical bills and compensate you for any pain and suffering. Contact a seasoned and trial-ready Bronx personal injury lawyer at the Kohn Law Firm for a no-cost consultation after a New York elevator accident.