New homes constructed along the Gulf coast as well as on the Atlantic shores of Florida, the Carolinas, and elsewhere, are being built “taller” to provide more resilient protection against storm surge. As a consequence, a significantly increasing number of people are having residential elevators installed in their homes. There is a noticeable downside to the marked increase in residential elevator installations. Unlike their commercial counterparts, residential elevators are subject to little or no regulation. As a consequence, there is a growing and alarming consensus among professional elevator inspectors and mechanics that residential elevators are becoming an increasing public health and safety hazard.
Regulation and Inspection of Commercial Versus Private or Residential Elevators
The statutes and regulations pertaining to elevator inspections are instituted on a state by state basis. With that said, there is some consistency among states along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States regarding elevator inspection and maintenance issues.
Commercial elevators in the referenced region must be inspected annually. This includes not only elevators in places of business but in multi-family residential dwellings like apartments and condominiums.
Most people understandably assume that elevators in private residences like single family homes and townhouses must be inspected annually in this manner as well. There generally is no such requirement in the Atlantic and Gulf coast states. The exist without regulation.
The reality is this lack of regulation extends to private or residential elevators in most states in country. The focus is on the Atlantic and Gulf coast states as a result of the significant increase in the number of residential properties into which elevators are being installed in these jurisdictions.
Alarming Number of Residential Elevator Accidents
What most people simply do not realize is that there are a considerable number of elevator accidents at private residences each year in the states that are the focus of this article but also across the United States as well. An associated fact is that many of these accidents arise as a result of residential elevators not being in a safe condition. The deficiencies in these elevators is not known or can intentionally be overlooked because there is no inspection scheme in place in much of the United States for private or residential lifts.
The bottom line is that no one knows for sure how many residential elevator accidents are occurring in the United States annually. There is not accurate information regarding the number of people injured or killed in residential elevator accidents each year. There is no requirement in most jurisdictions for these types of accidents to be reported.
Shocking Examples of Individual Elevator Accidents
Taking a look at only several residential elevator accidents that have happened in fairly recent times illustrates the potential danger of this equipment, particularly when elevators are not property inspected or maintained:
- In the Carolinas, a 10-year-old girl was attending a party at a home with an elevator. The safety gate was removed from the elevator for some reason, a situation that would have been detected if inspections were required. The girl ended up crushed to death between the elevator and a wall.
- A man in his 70s summoned an elevator in his own home. The door to the lift did not remain closed until the elevator arrived at the floor he was on. The man ended up walking into the shaft before the elevator arrived. The elevator ended up coming down on the man, crushing him to death. The door situation would have been detected during an inspection.
- An elderly couple in Georgia died of heat exposure or exhaustion when their home elevator got stuck between the second and third floors of their residence. The elevator was not equipped with a phone and they lacked any way to summon help. The lack of an emergency communication device would have been an inspection issue if an inspection occurred.
- A preschool girl was crushed by an elevator that came down on her while she was in the shaft. This was another case of door not properly functioning, a defect easily detectable if an inspection would have occurred. In this case, the door to the lift on the main floor was open and the elevator should not have been able to descend.
Your Legal Rights After a Residential Elevator Accident
If you or a loved one have been injured in an elevator accident, The Doan Law Firm at (800) 349-0000 is here for you. You can connect with a Doan Law Firm elevator accident attorney any time of the day or night. A nationwide law firm, we never charge for an initial consultation and case evaluation with an elevator accident lawyer.
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