United States elevators make 18 billion passenger trips every year. When we enter elevators, we trust they will work safely, but when elevator accidents occur, they can be lethal. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that, on average, elevators kill five people and injure 940 each year nationwide. Texas has been known as a state with a large number of elevator accidents.
Why Do Elevator Accidents Occur?
Texas law requires that all facilities inspect their elevators every year. However, after thorough investigations from WFAA, they discovered significant problems in the state's program. They noticed that records showed missed inspections, neglected elevators, and poor record-keeping.
One of the significant problems with the system is that Texas has no inspectors on its payroll. Although there is a chief inspector and a deputy based in Austin, they don't actually complete elevator inspections.
Texas has conducted inspections of over 40,000 elevators by issuing licenses to approximately 150 independent contractors. What's concerning is that they aren't all equally trained, nor do they have the necessary experience to ensure elevator safety. In fact, the minimum requirement to become an elevator inspector in Texas is a fifty-dollar, three-day course. WFAA also found some inspectors faking inspections.
Elevator Accidents are Lethal
“The problem lies with the fact that if something bad happens with an elevator, it gets really bad, really fast,” says 40-year elevator expert, Ken Pixley. “So, there's just no room for error."
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation enforces annual elevator inspections. But analysis of the state’s own data shows 5,617, or 14% of all elevators are overdue for their yearly inspection. Some of them even show that they were overdue for an inspection years ago.
When elevator accidents happen, they are fatal.
Fatal Elevator Accidents In Texas
In 2003, a Dallas doctor was decapitated by an elevator at the Houston hospital. Later that year, another doctor died instantly in an elevator accident in Christus St. Joseph's hospital when it malfunctioned. It trapped him in the door as the elevator began to rise. A nurse was also trapped in the elevator with the man’s head, as rescuers tried to free her.
A nurse was nearly crushed to death in an elevator at the Fort Worth hospital. After examining the incident, state investigators discovered that the accident occurred due to worn-out brakes caused by lack of maintenance.
Research shows that nearly half of all Texas elevator accidents occur in Dallas and Fort Worth. One-third of those accidents take place in hospitals, which typically have elevators running day and night.
Tela Mange, the department's spokeswoman in Austin, said that "There are a lot of building owners out there who are either unaware that they need to have their elevators inspected or that don't care. And either one is a problem.”
Elevator Accidents in Dallas & Fort Worth
WFAA searched through a year’s worth of 911 stuck elevator calls to the Dallas Fire-Rescue. They soon discovered a pattern and noticed that accidents often occurred in the same five locations in Dallas and Fort Worth.
The top five locations where elevator accidents occurred were:
- NorthPark Mall - 27 calls in one year.
- South Side on Lamar lofts, 1409 S Lamar St. - 23 calls
- The Wilson Building, 1623 Main St. - 17 calls
- Tower at Cityplace, 2711 N Haskell Ave. - 16 calls
- Sterlingshire Apartments, 9415 Bruton Rd. - 15 calls
If you or your loved one were injured in an elevator accident, contact our premises liability attorneys today for a free consultation. We’ve helped those injured recover the compensation they deserve for their injured.