“There are about 33,000 escalators operating in the U.S. – far fewer than the number of elevators. But injuries occur more frequently on escalators, about 15 times more frequently than elevators. Although entrapment – in which a body part or piece of clothing becomes wedged into the gaps between the moving parts of an escalator – is often a high-profile issue because those incidents typically involve small children, falls on and over escalators account for three-quarters of all escalator injuries.”
Generally, escalator falls happen in two ways. The person may trip and fall on the escalator itself, which can result in broken bones and other severe injuries. The other fall situation is one in which the passenger falls over the side of an escalator. This can result in severe injury or even death.
Every year in the United States, there are more than 10,000 injuries directly related to escalators. The vast majority of those injured or killed in escalator accidents were children under the age of 12 and senior citizens over the age of 65. While most people would blame the actual riders of the escalator for the falls, this isn’t always the case. If the escalator malfunctions and the handrail or steps suddenly stop, this could cause falls of both types. Additionally, if the height of the balustrade (side walls) of the escalator is not sufficient, it could be easier for people to lose their balance and fall over the sides. If there is too much of a gap between the skirting and the moving stairs on an escalator, clothing or even fingers and toes can be caught inside the mechanism. This could result in direct injury or falls that lead to injuries as well. Other types of escalator injuries could happen due to:
- Handrail entrapments
- Broken steps
- Missing steps
- Comb plate entrapment
- Stalled escalators used as stairs
Escalators work with a counterweight system. When they are stalled or turned off, it doesn’t take very much weight to make the steps start moving if the brake is damaged or not set. In this case, it would be very easy for someone to slip and fall if they are attempting to use the escalator as steps.
Injuries from escalator accidents can be detrimental and disfiguring. If extremities are trapped within moving parts, this could result in total loss of fingers and toes. In fall accidents, the injuries could include:
- Broken bones
- Bruises and contusions
- Spinal damage
- Head injuries
- Internal organ damage
In some cases, a fall on an escalator could result in paralysis and the falls have been fatal as well. The actual liability of the escalator injury can depend on a number of factors. The blame could fall on the manufacturer, the maintenance team, or the owner of the system. If codes are not followed, then someone is being negligent. If the escalator is in disrepair, then the owner or maintenance team could be held responsible. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an escalator accident of any type, you will need an experienced attorney to look into your case. You may be entitled to compensation if premises liability can be proven. However, you won’t receive any of that compensation if you don’t hire an experienced and dedicated attorney. You need someone to fight for your rights so choose your legal representation carefully. Call the attorneys at Thompson | Wedeking to discuss a free evaluation of your case. This will help you determine if you need to proceed and who you need to proceed against.