While our firm represent many individuals who are harmed by elevator defects and malfunction, rarely do we have videos of the actual incidents. This video, which has made the rounds on the internet and on news program, captures the panic this poor guy must have been going through.
There are about 18 billion passenger elevator trips in the U.S. every year, according to National Elevator Industry, Inc. Obviously, the risk of being harmed while riding an elevator is very small. Nonetheless, elevators can cause serious injuries when they are improperly maintained, repaired, and serviced. There can be pulley system malfunctions, faulty wiring, unbalanced leveling, and open shafts leading to a risk of fall.
Unfortunately, there is very little amount of information regarding elevator defects. One of the reasons for this is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates many products in society, is not authorized to regulate elevators.
The next part is for the lawyers and legal junkies. Many elevator cases fall under the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitor. New Jersey Courts have established the principal that certain accidents are ones that in and of themselves bespeak negligence, giving rise to the evidentiary inference that the Defendant was negligent. An elevator abruptly dropping without warning to a passenger and remaining inoperable for a period of time is the type of incident which “probably” doesn’t occur unless the responsible party negligently maintained it. Jerista v. Murray, 185 N.J. 175 (2005) (Automatic elevator door struck Plaintiff); Rose v. Port of New York Authority, 61 N.J. 129 (1972) (Automatic door struck Plaintiff); Allendorf v. Kaiserman Enterprises, 266 N.J. Super. 662 (App. Div.1993) (Elevator door struck plaintiff); Rosenberg v. Otis Elevator, 366 N.J. Super. 292 (App. Div. 2004) (Passenger elevator fell three  stories). While experts aren’t necessarily needed in many elevator cases, it’s often a good idea to retain an expert in the more complicated, higher value ones.