Escalators are an easy and convenient way to travel between floors without having to wait for an elevator or trudge up a flight of stairs. These moving staircases have been around for over 100 years. The first working escalator was designed and built as an amusement ride at Coney Island. In modern times escalators are primarily used as a means of transportation among the floors of a building in various businesses around the country and the world.
However, riding on an escalator is not without its risks. Every year people are injured because of escalators. Around the United States there are approximately 10,000 escalator-related injuries each year. The most common types of injuries that people suffer in escalator accidents are entrapment injuries and falls.
Premises Liability - Liability Of The Property Owner
Premises liability is an area of negligence that deals with the duty a landowner has to those who enter the landowner's property. In general, a property owner or occupier has a duty to properly maintain his or her premises so as to prevent injury to visitors to the property. Traditionally, the law categorized visitors as either trespassers, licensees, or invitees. The greatest duty of care was owed to invitees and the least to trespassers. Many escalators are on the premises of a business, such as a department store or a mall. Visitors invited onto a property for business purposes by the property owner are usually categorized as invitees and thus the greatest duty of care is owed to these types of visitors.
Business owners have a duty to inspect the premises for any potential hazards, hidden or obvious, and warn their patrons if there is a potentially dangerous condition, such as a wet floor that a patron could slip on. In addition, business owners have a responsibility to make sure that transportation devices on their property, like escalators, are functioning properly and getting regular maintenance. If a business fails in this duty and a patron is injured as a result, then the business could be held liable for any damages that the patron suffers as a result of the business's negligence.
Product Liability - Liability Of The Escalator Manufacturer
Millions of products go onto the market every day. Unfortunately some of these products are defective in some manner and consumers are injured as a result. If a person is injured because of a defect in the escalator itself then the manufacturer of that escalator could be held liable for the injuries a consumer suffers if those are injuries were caused by the defect.
When a product has caused an injury, there are several theories under which liability can be assigned including strict liability and negligence. When pursuing a product defect claim under negligence or strict liability, there are three ways a product is usually considered to be defective. The product either has a manufacturing defect, a design defect, or there are not sufficient warnings on the product. A manufacturing defect means that there was a mistake in the manufacturing process. A design defect means that there is some flaw in the way the product was designed that makes it dangerous to use. A failure to warn means that the product doesn't have any warnings or doesn't have sufficient warnings to help a consumer safely use the product.
If a product is found to be defective in one of these three ways, then the manufacturer, seller, or distributor of that product could be held liable for damages if a consumer is injured by the defective product.
A Competent And Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
With some 33,000 escalators in operation around the country, it is likely most people have or will ride on an escalator at some point in their lives, especially if they spend time in malls or department stores. If you or a loved one has been injured while riding on an escalator please do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Gilman & Bedigian today.