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How Common Are Elevator and Escalator Accidents 

Accidents and injuries happen daily, probably in more ways than you can imagine. Sure, there are many obvious examples, like cutting your finger while cooking, having a car wreck, crashing on a bicycle, or slipping in a retail store.

Then there are categories of accidents that we have heard about, but don’t really know how common they might be. For example, how many people actually know someone that has been in an airplane crash or a train wreck? Or have you ever known anyone that was accidentally shot, or hit by a fire truck? These things all happen. Fortunately, just not too often.

And that brings us to the question posed by this blog post – how common are elevator and escalator accidents?

The Abundance of Elevators and Escalators

When you think about things that make our daily lives easier, escalators and elevators must be high on the list. Getting from one floor to another easily is helpful for anyone, and absolutely necessary for some people with physical limitations. Moreover, many buildings are now so tall, with so many floors, it would be impractical to walk upstairs. Thus, it is not surprising to learn that there are a massive number of escalators and elevators across the country.

According to Statista, from 2012 to 2021, 18 million elevators and escalators were in operation worldwide. ElevatorWorld reports that in 2016, 35,000 escalators were operating in the United States, and in 2017, 1.1 million elevators. There are approximately 325 million elevator rides every day, and each elevator carries about 20,000 elevator riders each year. According to the National Elevator Industry, 105 billion passengers in the United States ride escalators annually.

Elevator and Escalator Accident Statistics

Given the number of elevator and escalator riders, and the frequency of the trips for many people, there will, unfortunately, be accidents. Additionally, people who work on elevators and escalators can suffer injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), elevator and escalator incidents result in roughly 30 deaths yearly and approximately 17,000 injuries. The CDC further reports that elevator accidents cause 90 percent of deaths and 60 percent of serious injuries when compared to escalator injuries.

Some of the common types of accidents involving elevators and escalators include the following:

  • Falls into elevator shafts, either from sudden drops caused by mechanical failure, or a door opening prematurely.
  • Workers getting caught between moving parts.
  • Elevators or platforms collapsing, either due to faulty wiring or poor construction. 
  • Strikes from elevator counterweights.

Dangerous conditions within elevators or on escalator tracks can also lead to injury, such as ignoring load capacities or malfunctions within the electronic components of these devices. The types of accidents that occur within elevators and escalators can cause injuries ranging from emotional distress to broken bones, electric shock, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, and, in severe instances, wrongful death. 

Legal Responsibility for Elevators and Escalators

While elevator and escalator accidents may not occur as frequently as some other types of accidents, the results can be catastrophic when they do. Governments recognize this danger and legislate codes and standards that owners and operators of elevators and escalators must follow. In fact, Oregon has a statewide Elevator Specialty Code in place to avoid escalator and elevator injuries.

You may have ridden an elevator in your apartment building/complex or a commercial building that seems “strange.” Elevator owners and operators have a legal duty to comply with various requirements, such as inspecting and repairing elevators and escalators. A failure to do so can lead to legal liability when injury results from a negligent or wrongful intentional act.

Call with Questions

If you have been injured in an elevator or escalator accident, we know you will have questions about your rights. We are here to answer them for you in a free consultation. The experienced team of personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield handle accident cases all across Oregon, and know that the best way to keep society safe is to hold responsible parties accountable for their behavior.