Elevator Work Injury

Injury attorneys in Boston at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers can help injured elevator workers determine all avenues of recovering damages and obtaining a worker's compensation for your injuries.

Accidents in or near elevators and escalators result in roughly 17,000 injuries and 30 deaths a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most of those incidents involve elevators. Those who work with these machines, particularly elevator mechanics, account for about 50 of those killed and a significant portion of those injured. Workers at highest risk are responsible for:

  • Installation
  • Repair
  • Maintenance
  • Working in or near

These are among the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry, and the BLS reports it's a career field that's on track for 25 percent growth in the next several years - much higher than average.

Most Common Elevator Worker Injuries

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half of elevator worker deaths occurred due to falls into the shaft. Other regularly-cited causes of elevator worker injury and death include:

  • Workers caught in/ between moving parts;
  • Workers in or on elevators or platforms that collapse;
  • Electrical shock, burns or electrocution from improper controller wiring;
  • Slip-and-fall injuries and falls from heights;
  • Eye injuries from cutting, welding and dust debris;
  • Noise-induced hearing loss;
  • Injuries resulting from awkward postures, the vibration of power tools and machinery;
  • Injuries caused by lifting or carrying heavy objects or tools;
  • Workers struck by elevators or counterweights.

Workers can also be exposed to hazardous materials, such as asbestos, solvents, exhaust, dust, fungi, lead-based paints, biological hazards (needles tossed into pits, urine, animal feces) and pests.

These incidents are largely preventable, with safety recommendations include ensuring proper training, de-energizing and locking out electrical circuits and mechanical equipment when apparatus is out-of-service or in repair. Employers should only have qualified workers for repair and maintenance and provide proper equipment, such as hard-hats, ventilators, and fall protection. Adequate procedures should be in place for regular inspections. Work sites should also be well-lit, well-ventilated, secure from unauthorized access and clear of unnecessary hazards, like wet floors or improperly-stored chemicals.

While injury using an elevator is not unheard of, elevator installers and repairers (also referred to as elevator constructors and elevator mechanics) suffer the highest risk of injury and fatality. According to an analysis by the Center for Construction Research and Training, about 80 percent of deadly elevator accidents involved employees of construction contractors.

The death rate for these workers is nearly double that for all construction workers (though it's based on smaller pools, so some researchers have questioned the statistical accuracy).

Among the serious worker injuries that result from elevator accidents:

  • Traumatic head injuries;
  • Broken bones;
  • Facial injuries;
  • Neck injuries;
  • Spinal cord damage;
  • Lacerations and cuts;
  • Nerve damage;
  • Back injuries;
  • Internal organ injuries;
  • Paralysis;
  • Death

Elevator shafts, where most worker fatalities occur, are essentially large holes. They pose a major fall risk to construction workers and elevator mechanics toiling in and around them. The primary danger is for workers who are constructing, maintaining or repairing the elevator itself. However, if an elevator shaft is unblocked and unattended, other workers could be in danger too.

Workers' Compensation Claims

Our Boston elevator work injury attorneys are committed to fighting for your right to full and fair compensation. Firstly - and often primarily - this is in the form of workers' compensation. Injured elevator workers in Massachusetts should have their medical bills covered and, if they have lost five or more days of work, receive a percentage of their lost wages.

It is not necessary to prove your employer was negligent or somehow made a mistake. Even if the accident was caused by your own error, so long as it happened in the course and scope of employment, you should still be entitled to collect workers' compensation. These are no-fault benefits that almost all Massachusetts employers are required to carry.

Although you can file a claim yourself without the help of an attorney, it's not uncommon for employers or insurers to downplay the extent of your injuries or question their cause. Especially if your injuries are severe, it's worth your while to speak with an experienced lawyer.

Third-Party Liability for Elevator Worker Injuries

In some cases, our attorneys may also have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. Although you cannot sue your employer (per the exclusive remedy provision of Massachusetts workers' compensation law, except in rare cases of serious and willful misconduct), you can sometimes seek recovery of damages from others who may have been negligent. These cases are called "third-party liability" claims, and they are allowed per MGL c. 152 § 15.

Examples of third-party liability claims in elevator worker injury cases:
  • Manufacturer of a defective elevator or faulty components;
  • Negligent elevator inspectors who failed to alert to serious safety issue;
  • General contractors who failed to ensure safe working conditions;
  • Property owners responsible for a hazardous condition on site.

It's imperative that your injury attorney explore the possibility of a third-party liability lawsuit because if your injuries are severe, workers' compensation is unlikely to fully cover your losses. A successful personal injury lawsuit will provide you and your family with additional compensation, such as full lost wages, future loss of income, loss of life enjoyment and (for your spouse) loss of consortium.

This kind of legal action is separate and apart from your workers' compensation claim, though your health insurer or workers' compensation insurer may have the right to recover whatever portion they've already paid that you recovered in the personal injury claim. However, as underscored in the 2011 Massachusetts Appeals Court case of Curry v. The Great American Insurance Company, it was made clear that workers' compensation insurers could not place a lien on third-party awards for damages like pain and suffering, which are not awarded in workers' compensation claims in the first place.

Contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation.


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