Many of us use elevators and escalators on a daily basis without considering the risk involved. An elevator is a box pulled up and dropped down in an empty space from one floor to another. An escalator is a motor-driven chain moving in a continuous loop that people stand on as it moves in one direction or another. While most of the time, elevators and escalators will work just fine, the nature of these machines can create much harm when they malfunction.
Elevators and Escalators Are Government-Regulated
The state of Colorado requires all elevators and escalators to be up to state codes. Building owners must register escalators and elevators with the Department of Oil and Public Safety and allow annual inspections. Some may have to be taken out of use if the problem makes it too risky to rude until repaired.
Elevators have a range of possible malfunctions, from inconvenient to deadly. Elevators can be stuck, leaving riders to overheat or dehydrate. Elevators can also fall or stop abruptly, causing injuries, and in rare cases, death.
However, passengers are more likely to be stuck in or hurt by the elevator doors. Elevator doors are designed to keep doors from closing on passengers, but these sensors can fail. Elevators can also mis-level, meaning that the elevator does not come level to the opening to the floor. When this happens, passengers may trip or fall trying to exit the elevator.
Escalators can malfunction, leaving riders hurt. In 2003, 32 people were injured when a 3-story escalator abruptly stopped, throwing riders off balance. It’s not uncommon for escalators to suddenly go in reverse direction, either, leaving riders who were heading up suddenly heading down and into a pile of people.
Escalators can also cause injury when clothing and shoes become stuck between the floor and the escalator chain. Soft shoes, like rubber clogs and flip-flops are commonly stuck, as are untied shoelaces, scarfs, or long skirts.
What to Do If Injured by an Elevator or Escalator
The first thing someone injured by an elevator or escalator should do is seek medical attention. Some injuries may not manifest right way but are still very serious. Those who fall could sustain head injuries or hairline fractures in their bones that will only worsen without medical attention.
The second thing the injured person should do is retain a personal injury lawyer. The injured may be able to recover for their injuries. They will also benefit from having their own legal counsel who is only concerned with their needs.
The owner of the property where the elevator or escalator is or their insurance company may contact the injured person. The owner may want to attempt to settle out of court for far less than the cost of the injuries. While the representatives at the owner’s insurance company or the owner’s own lawyers may be very nice, they’re specifically trying to avoid paying the injured person as much as they can avoid paying. The injured person’s own lawyer will handle all communication with the insurance company and the other side’s lawyers.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an elevator or escalator accident, please contact the attorneys at Kidneigh & Kaufman for your free consultation, 303-393-6666.
 7 CCR §1101-8.