Three companies that sell in-home elevators recently announced voluntary recalls of approximately 69,000 elevators after concerns were raised about children becoming trapped, resulting in severe injuries and death.
The move comes after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had issued a warning to consumers to stop using residential elevators made by Waupaca Elevator Company after reports of children becoming entrapped in the residential elevator gaps that were larger than four inches.
But how dangerous are home elevators? And is there something homeowners can do to prevent injuries from occurring?
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, 300,000 to 500,000 homes and other buildings in the United States have residential elevators. In-home elevators are fairly reasonable and are popular in multi-story townhomes and in homes with a disabled or elderly person.
Unlike a commercial elevator, where the doors slide open, a residential elevator, usually has an outer, or hoistway door that swings open and an interior gate or accordion door in the car. In many cases, a gap can exist between the inner and outer doors. According to the CPSC, if the gap is too deep, a child can enter and close the hoistway door without opening the interior car door first. The child will then become trapped between the two doors as both doors will lock, resulting in serious injuries or even death if the elevator begins to move.
The Washington Post article revealed that corporate memos going back to at least 1943 have mentioned this hazard and despite numerous attempts from elevator experts and injury victims’ families, the danger still exists and often results in tragedy. In July 2021, a 7-year-old child was found without a pulse after being trapped between the elevator car and the elevator shaft inside a vacation rental he was staying at in North Carolina. Although rescuers were able to free him, they were unable to resuscitate him.
Depending on where and how the elevator accident occurred, multiple parties may be held responsible for your accident. For example, if it was in an Airbnb or a vacation home, the property owners may be held accountable for not taking the proper precautions to keep their premises safe from harm.
If you or a loved one was injured in a residential elevator accident in Washington, DC, you may be able to hold the following parties liable:
In-home elevator accidents in Washington, DC can be difficult to prove who is responsible; so it’s best to speak with an experienced DC product liability attorney as soon as possible.
In 2017, the elevator safety code had changed to shrink the size of the door gap. However, this code only applied to new installations.
For homeowners with older model residential elevators in their homes, there is an inexpensive and simple solution to protect visitors and family members. Costing approximately $100, an elevator space guard is a safety device that reduces the space between the hoistway door and the car door. The guard is mounted to the inside face of the elevator landing doors.
A space guard can prevent a child from fitting into the space with the outer door shut. Many of the companies that have issued voluntary recalls for their products are providing homeowners with free space guards to prevent any further injuries from happening.
If you or a family member was injured in an in-home elevator in the DC Metro area, you have the right to file a personal injury claim. The Washington, DC injury attorneys at Regan Zambri Long can help. We have achieved multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for those who were injured by defective products. Don’t delay, contact our DC product liability law firm today to schedule a free consultation.