Burlingame, CA Elevator Accident Attorney

Double Elevators

Personal Injury Lawyer Fighting on Behalf of Elevator Accident Injury Victims in the San Francisco Bay Area 

People ride elevators and escalators every day and expect them to work properly. When they don't, accidents and injuries happen. About 85% of elevator accidents involve tripping when entering or exiting a car that does not properly level with the floor or when doors close on a passenger. The remaining 15% involve extreme forces from abrupt stops, falls down the elevator shaft, or compression between moving parts. Most escalator accidents involve clothing or body parts becoming entrapped in the moving parts or falls due to abrupt jerks or stops. Conveyances are machines that require periodic maintenance to prevent them from breaking down, and most accidents occur due to improper maintenance.

Elevators are highly complicated machines with numerous high speed moving parts. Most people are only familiar with the parts of the elevator which they use such as the car, the buttons, the doors, and the openings on each floor. In the movies you sometimes see the shafts and the "ropes", which in modern day traction elevators are redundant steel cables. But few people have ever seen the machine room where many component parts, and all of the electronic boards, are kept and serviced. Escalators are also unique because use of the machine as intended puts the passenger in close proximity to moving parts and gaps. 

In California, the owner of the building owns the elevator or escalator and has a non-delegable duty to look after the safety of passengers. Therefore, they are ultimately responsible for a defective conveyance even if they hired a maintenance company. The owner is a common carrier which means they are legally required to use the highest degree of care, vigilance, and foresight. Mr. Shapiro actually handled a multi-million dollar published case in this area of law; Koepnick v. Kashiwa Fudosan America, Inc. (2009) 173 Cal. App. 4th 32.

The owners of many modern commercial and apartment buildings use property management companies, which often provide building engineers and hire maintenance companies for their elevators and escalators. The actions or inactions of these agents in gathering and responding to complaints and warning signs can be crucial in establishing elements of liability, such as notice and a lack of appropriate care. Legal analysis is required to determine who is responsible among the various actors.

Vertical transportation companies are well armed, fight hard, and concede nothing. Each major company hires local counsel with assigned territories who specialize in vertical transportation defense work. They also have experts ready to mobilize when an accident is reported. While these are formidable obstacles, they can be overcome. Most significant vertical transportation cases require retained experts and extensive litigation.

Having the right expert is almost as important as having the right attorney. They must have extensive knowledge of the machinery and yet not be tied to the industry. The expert is important for inspections, reports, testimony, and even pre-trial discovery. Often in litigation the attorney must fight for the records and documents necessary to evaluate the history of the elevator, including call-backs which are times when the elevator service company came for a specific reason as opposed to regularly scheduled maintenance. An expert can inform the court why such records should be disclosed.

There can also be information to obtain from the government. Have you ever noticed those little certificates with dates, albeit often expired, inside elevator cars? They correspond to files which track inspections and correction notices. OSHA has a special Elevator Unit with a file on every elevator in the State of California. 

Elevator cases are very expensive and require extensive training and resources. You need an experienced attorney like Mr. Shapiro if you have been seriously injured in an elevator or escalator accident. Please feel free to call Shapiro Legal Group for a free consultation at 1-650-274-0180 or contact him online.

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851 Burlway Rd, #500, Burlingame, CA 94010
| Phone: 650-274-0180

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