Elevator Failure – Who’s Responsible?

by | Feb 13, 2017 | Premises Laws

Elevator Failure – Who’s Responsible?

It’s the nightmare scenario – passengers are traveling from floor to floor in a multi-storey building when the elevator shudders and comes to a sudden halt. Concern can turn to panic as minutes can seem like hours while the passengers wait for help, while worrying about whether at any moment the elevator could fail, plunging to the bottom floor.

Unfortunately, elevator accidents are more common than you might think. In 2015, emergency workers responded to over 4,400 calls to rescue people trapped in disabled elevators, a number that has more than doubled since 2001.

Elevator Malfunctions

There are over 50,000 elevators in Ontario, and over half of residential elevators are 25 years old, or older. Recognizing the risks of aging equipment, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) has changed from requiring monthly inspection of elevators to a standard that varies, depending upon each elevator’s needs. Despite these modern regulatory changes, elevators are still failing more frequently than ever before, perhaps because of:

  • more elevators being installed every day;
  • less frequent inspections, particularly for older elevators;
  • fewer elevator repair technicians, particularly those who are skilled to repair older elevator technology;
  • older equipment requiring more frequent maintenance;
  • hard-to-obtain parts for older, obsolete elevators;
  • increasingly frequent use of elevators;
  • expense, which may lead building owners to allow routine maintenance to be deferred.

As our buildings continue to age, and more people are moving into high-rise condominiums and other tall buildings, the elevator failure problem will likely continue to increase. Our aging population will also need to make increasing use of elevators, so it is very important that elevator equipment be safe for all.

Trapped Elevator Passengers Incur Damages

Most passengers who experience elevator failure leave the lift unharmed. However, minor to fatal injuries can and do occur due to elevator accidents. Some of the injuries and damage that can be suffered by passengers and those who rely upon elevators when they fail may include:

  • Severe or fatal injury, including burns from electrical malfunction, or in rare cases, death from mechanical failures of critical elevator systems;
  • Anxiety – passengers who have been trapped in failed elevators may feel anxious about enclosed spaces or riding elevators in the future;
  • Inconvenience and other hardship due to elevators being disabled, perhaps trapping elderly or disabled people on upper floors.

In the event of an elevator failure, one or more of the following people may be at fault:

  • Building Owner
  • Elevator Maintenance Company/Technician
  • Elevator Manufacturer

It is important that you seek legal advice if you believe you have a claim arising from an elevator failure, both to help ensure that the problem is remedied to prevent others from having the same hardship, and to seek compensation for your injuries or other losses that you may have suffered as a result of the elevator failure.

Building owners are responsible for ensuring that the elevators in their buildings are safe, properly maintained and in good working order. Elevator manufacturer must ensure that their products are safe for the public to use and elevator maintenance and repair companies must take care that lifts are maintained to appropriate standards, and that repairs are carried out in a proper and safe manner.

If you’ve suffered pain, anxiety, hardship or injury as a result of an elevator failure, call an expert on premises law. The lawyers at Mackesy Smye have the experience and knowledge to guide and advise you of your legal options.

Complete our secure contact form to arrange your free, no-obligation consultation with one of our premises law lawyers, or give us a call at 905-525-2341.


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