When a loved one dies in an elevator accident, you have a right to seek compensation for your loss. Personal injury lawyers are ready to help you unravel the cause of the accident so you can file a wrongful death claim. Here we explore the possible parties who might be responsible for elevator negligence in a fatal elevator accident.
Building Owner Responsibility
The first possible responsible party is the building owner(s). They have what is referred to as a “duty of care to others” to keep their property safe. Whether someone lives or works on the premises or is visiting, they should feel safe entering a building without facing dangerous conditions that can cause injury. In order to find the building owner responsible your lawyer will consider the following questions:
- Does the defendant own, occupy, or control the property?
- Was the defendant negligent in the use or maintenance of the property/elevator?
- Was that negligence a substantial factor in injuring the plaintiff?
In these cases, the property owner breached their duty of care. This can be either in the use or maintenance of the property. A good example of building owner elevator negligence is a property owner who fails to invest in regular elevator maintenance and inspections to ensure they are safe for use.
Even if there are no incidents of poor operation other than your loved one’s accident, the property owner has a duty of care to ensure the elevator permit does not expire, and that the elevator is in perfect working order. However, if your personal injury lawyer finds the property owner did everything in their power to perform their duty of care, the responsibility could lie elsewhere.
Elevator Company Responsibility
Another possibility is that the elevator manufacturer is liable. If an elevator is defective due to the elevator company’s design or manufacturing process, the elevator company can be held liable for elevator injuries or wrongful death. In these cases your lawyer will consider the following issues:
- Are there any manufacturing defects?
- Are there any design defects?
- Is there inadequate warning regarding known potential defects?
- Who sold the defective elevator?
If the elevator was defective due to a design or manufacturing flaw, the manufacturer could be liable for the wrongful death and be ordered to pay compensation.
Other Possible Responsible Parties for Elevator Accident Fatalities
If both the property owner and manufacturer are not responsible, the following other avenues must be pursued:
- Licensed elevator contractor: Did the elevator contractor comply with elevator installation and adaption regulations?
- Licensed elevator inspection: Did the elevator inspector approve the elevator for use without requesting the record of the approved application for the initial installation?
- Property manager liability: Did the property owner engage a property management service to ensure annual elevator inspections were performed? If yes, did they ensure the inspections were performed, and also follow through with recommended repairs and maintenance?
- Elevator maintenance company: Did the property management company hire an elevator maintenance company to inspect and maintain the elevator? If so, did that company meet the requirements of their contract?
- Elevator maintenance employer: If your loved one was employed by an elevator company, did their employer comply with their “nondelegable duty” to ensure your loved one received the proper training and equipment to perform their job safely?
All of these scenarios help determine who is responsible when a fatal elevator accident occurs.