Many people must ride an elevator or escalators to go shopping, to go up to their apartment, or to go to their jobs. While we take elevators and escalators for granted, they are not always as safe as we assume. If you are hurt in an elevator or escalator accident, it is crucial to retain a skillful California premises liability attorney who can pursue damages on your behalf by using the appropriate theories and gathering the relevant evidence. At Black & DePaoli, California premises liability attorney Travis G. Black previously worked in law enforcement and insurance, and he understands how accidents are investigated and evaluated. He may be able to help you recover damages.
Understanding Claims Arising from Elevator and Escalator Accidents
Elevator and escalator accidents can be caused by many different problems, including poor maintenance, a safety brake system failure, someone trying to stop a door from closing, or a failure of the bottom of the compartment to stay even with a floor. You have three theories that may be appropriate to pursue after these types of accidents. You can proceed on a theory of negligence, premises liability, or product liability.
In California, commercial elevators and escalators can be identified as common carriers. In most negligence lawsuits, the duty of ordinary care is whatever a reasonable person would do or not do, given the circumstances. However, common carriers are expected to meet a heightened standard of care, under which they do their utmost and use a reasonable degree of skill to provide everything necessary for passenger safety. The rationale behind this heightened duty is that stores profit from the use of escalators and elevators.
The owner’s heightened duty of care is just for people who ride on the escalator or elevator, but it means that it can be held liable to passengers who were injured even by a slight degree of negligence. Common carriers are not insurers of passenger safety and cannot guarantee safety, but it is possible to hold them liable for small amounts of carelessness. However, it is possible that the defendant will argue that you were also negligent. In that case, the jury will assign both the defendant and you percentages of responsibility, and your total recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault. An elevator accident attorney in California can help fight back against a defendant’s argument that you were negligent.
If you are suing for premises liability, you will need to show that the defendant controlled the elevator or escalator, the defendant was negligent in maintaining or using the elevator or escalator, the defendant knew or should have known about a dangerous condition of the elevator or escalator, and injuries were caused by the dangerous condition. If a property owner fails to make repairs or to warn about a dangerous condition, it can be held liable. Constructive notice can be established by showing how long a dangerous condition lasted before the accident occurred.
Sometimes elevator or escalator accidents are caused by flawed or defective equipment or a lack of proper servicing. When there is a defect in the elevator or escalator, we may be able to hold the manufacturer or supplier accountable in a product liability lawsuit. It may be possible to recover damages under a strict liability theory. Unlike in a negligence lawsuit, we do not need to prove that the manufacturer or supplier’s actions fell below a particular standard of care. Instead, we will need to show that there was a design or manufacturing defect and that this defect caused the accident that resulted in your injuries.
If we can establish liability under one of these theories, we can recover damages for you. These damages often include medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and household services.
Consult an Experienced Elevator Accident Lawyer in the California Area
If you need to recover compensation after an accident, you should consult our injury lawyers. We provide skillful legal representation to accident victims from our Folsom offices, and our principal previously worked in insurance, giving him particular insight into how insurance adjusters think about various types of injuries. To obtain a free consultation with a California elevator accident attorney, contact us online or call Black & DePaoli at 916-962-2896.