Every year, children are harmed or killed in elevators. One of the ways this happens is when children are trapped between the hoistway door and the accordion style elevator door. The hoistway door is a swinging door like you would see in any other doorway. It is a door that blocks the elevator from view and makes sure the shaft is not open when the elevator is in use. In home elevators, hoistway doors are common. Yet toddlers and small children can sometimes get smashed between the hoistway door and the door of the elevator.
Most of the time, the hoistway door automatically locks when closed. This is a safety feature used to ensure the hoistway door cannot be opened while the elevator is in operation. Unfortunately, this can result in terrible accidents. Sometimes children will get caught between the two closed doors. If the elevator starts to move, this can crush the child or cause him or her to slip under the elevator and into the shaft.
One unfortunate victim was a three-year-old boy who was trying to ride the elevator when he became pinched between the hoistway door and the elevator door. When his mother hit the elevator button, the elevator started to drop and the small child fell through the gap. He was crushed underneath the heavy elevator platform. While this young child didn't die in the incident, he has suffered brain damage.
Oftentimes, children between the ages of three and twelve are killed in these terrible accidents. The parents of this injured child say that they had "no idea" that the hoistway door could present such a danger. In fact, no operation manuals said anything about child endangerment.
The elevator companies that install these home systems are fully aware of the dangers involved. In fact, they are fully aware that children have been getting entrapped between hoistway doors and elevator doors for years. Industry standards addressed the issue nearly six-decades ago but cases continue to pop up all over the world despite those fixes.
While there are no statistics to represent the amount of accidents that have happened due to hoistway and elevator doors, the Otis Elevator company announced that between 1983 and 1993 34 children suffered serious injuries or death from these accidents. Industry experts say that almost all of the elevator accidents could have been prevented if the company had installed a space shield which is able to fill the gap where children can fall.
There is not any data which can determine the amount of home elevators in the United States, but some manufacturers are working hard to advocate for changes that could save children's lives every year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that they are planning an investigation and analysis for 2014. Parents should also be aware of the dangers of old-style elevators, which normally involve collapsible gates and swinging doors. Some of these collapsible doors are supposed to be operated by an attendant, so if they are not closed properly it can result in injury.
Young children should never be permitted to ride in elevators by themselves, especially old-style elevators or elevators hidden behind a hoistway door. If your child is severely injured or killed by a hoistway door, then you will want an attorney there to help you through the difficulties of the case. With the right lawyer on your side, you can advocate for safety and may even be able to seek compensation from the party -at-fault.
Take action and make sure to hold the elevator company accountable for their safety failures. Arnold & Itkin is a Houston personal injury firm that is focused on litigating in any personal injury cases or wrongful death cases. Contact the firm immediately for more information.