NEW YORK ELEVATOR ACCIDENT LAWYER OFFERS ADVICE TO APARTMENT BUILDING RESIDENTS
Around this time last year, elevator accidents made headlines when a 67-year-old blind man plunged 25 feet down an elevator shaft to his death in his Bronx apartment building. The doors to the elevator he was waiting for opened, but no elevator car was waiting when he stepped inside.
Of course the accident was investigated and it was later determined to be the fault of building management and the company that services the elevators in the building.
"When cases like these end up in court," Howard Raphaelson, a top New York elevator accident lawyer explained, "the issue for the claimant and his or her legal team — as is the case with most every negligence lawsuit — is proving that the injury to the plaintiff was a result of negligence on the part of the people responsible for the care and upkeep of the elevator."
"In making a determination," Raphaelson added, "the court may invoke a doctrine known by its Latin name, 'Res ipsa loquitor,' or, the act speaks for itself. On the face of it, in this instance, an elderly, blind resident of the building for many years, who no doubt has ridden in the elevator hundreds of times before, awaits the arrival of the car, hears the bell ring and the doors open, and in almost Pavlovian fashion moves forward expecting to step into the car. Instead, he falls down the elevator shaft and is killed. The act speaks for itself."
Raphaelson said that when elevators malfunction, it's elderly and disabled tenants who suffer the most. But current city codes make no exceptions for disabled tenants. The building codes that cover maintenance of elevators are the same for the elderly and infirm as they are for any other tenant. Also, some are more or less construction accidents.
"However, cases do arise" Raphaelson said, "where the courts hold a tenant responsible for his or her own injury if, say, the tenant tampered with the safe operation of the elevator, or tried to pry open a jammed door. I strongly advise tenants against doing this sort of thing."
Raphaelson recommends that tenants of New York apartment buildings report defective elevators, or other unsafe conditions in their buildings, to The New York City Housing Authority.