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Tragic Elevator Accident from a Legal Perspective

A fatal elevator accident occurred at a 23-story Manhattan apartment building near the end of August. The elevator malfunction killed a 30-year old man.

Elevator Accident Details

The New York Post reported that Sam Waisbren died when trying to exit the elevator. One person had left the elevator and Sam was right behind him when the elevator fell. Waisbren grabbed the elevator doorframe with his hand and tried to put his leg onto part of the lobby floor, but the force of the falling elevator prevented him from being able to exit. He was crushed between the elevator shaft wall and elevator car.

Five other people got trapped in the elevator as it plummeted downward to the basement. Firefighters had to rescue the remaining people from the car.

Department of Buildings Investigation

The city's Department of Buildings Investigation reported that this particular elevator had not been subject to complaints. However, the building’s other elevator had safety issues reported months ago that had resulted in it being shut down. A report about that elevator indicated a safety device, called a door zone restrictor, showed evidence of tampering.

Elevators have controllers/computers that prevent motion when the inside elevator door or outside elevator door is open. The inspector said that for the computer to fail, it would require numerous mechanical and electrical failures happening at the same time. The odds were extremely unlikely that this would happen without human interference.

It is important to note that there was another elevator accident, which occurred in 2011, killing a female executive in a Midtown building. That accident was attributed to a bypassed safety circuit.

Legal Perspective of the Accident

There are often grounds to pursue a premises liability lawsuit when safety hazards exist and a building owner or manager has not displayed a warning or dealt with the matter in a timely manner. An attorney handling a premises liability case would file a lawsuit on behalf of the injured individual or in the case of wrongful death, on behalf of the family. This type of lawsuit would hold a building management company accountable for damages. If it can be proven that the accident was preventable and safety features had been tampered with, making the elevator a safety hazard, grounds would exist for taking legal action.

Our lawyers at Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP have successfully handled many different types of personal injury accidents, and our firm has more than 65 years of experience.

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