Too many children have been victims of horrific accidents caused bmy home elevators. Most child home elevator injuries and deaths occur when children get trapped in the gap between the elevators’ exterior and interior doors. Unfortunately, the problem with home elevators—not the kind in hotels or office buildings– appears to be escalating.
An estimated 300,000 to 500,000 U.S. residences have home elevators, which can cost as little as $15,000, according to industry officials. Homeowners who are disabled or getting older buy them—hence an increase. As well, home elevators are popular in multistory townhouses and beach houses and some older apartment complexes still have them.
Surprisingly, the elevator industry has known since at least 1943 the dangers of home elevators– that children caught between the doors of home elevators have been injured or killed. As well, lawsuits filed since 2001 on behalf of injured or dead children further warn of child home elevator injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has known about child fatalities since 1981 and has studied child home elevator accidents in depth since 2013. But not much has been done to prevent child home elevator hazards.
If your child or another family member has been seriously injured in a home elevator, you could be entitled to recover compensation for medical costs and for your family’s pain and suffering through a product liability lawsuit. Manufacturers who place profits ahead of safety should be held accountable when preventable accidents occur and cause injuries. Child Home Elevator Accident Lawyer Jeffrey Killino is dedicated to helping children and families obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn about your legal options.
The latest CPSC analysis found 131 cases of residential elevator door accidents, many involving children with hand injuries. But evidence in a child elevator death lawsuit revealed that Otis Elevator knew that that its swing-door elevators had injured or killed 34 children — almost all in entrapments — in New Jersey and southern New York alone from 1983 to 1993. Otis, the world’s largest elevator company, had installed thousands of swing-door elevators modeled like today’s home elevators, mostly in apartment buildings.
Why Home Elevators are Unsafe for Children
As the British say, “Mind the gap”. Home elevator child entrapment injuries could be avoided if the 5-inch gap in the floor between a residential elevator’s two doors — to the elevator shaft and to the elevator car — is reduced by one inch. Experts say five inches is enough for a toddler to fall into, but four inches is not.
In 2005, several elevator experts tried to change the nation’s elevator safety code to shrink the door gap — and were rejected. They proposed that the problem could be fixed with just a $100 space guard that could “attach to the inside of an elevator’s swing door and fill the additional space, like a foam insert in a box,” reported the Washington Post. Even more insidious, such space guards were first mentioned in an internal memo by Otis Elevator in 1943, referring to a 1933 memo warning of the danger posed by the floor gap. (An eight-year-old in 2001 suffered a fatal head trauma in an Otis elevator entrapment accident.)
While the elevator code was finally revised in 2017, it applies only to new installations. It does not apply to hundreds of thousands of existing elevators, nor does it address elevator company negligence in dealing with this potential child elevator hazard. The Post says that The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), an industry group that sets voluntary safety standards for elevators, and other products, has codified the 5-inch gap in residential elevators.
Several elevator engineers lobbied the ASME to change the standard to 4 inches in 2005, but the ASME committee rejected the proposal.
Home Elevator Recall
Elmira Hydraulic residential hydraulic elevators were recalled after Coastal Carolina Elevators has received three reports of incidents with the elevators, including one injury that resulted in a catastrophic brain injury to a 10-year-old boy. Otis Elevators have not been recalled.
One day after the Washington Post published a story that detailed how regulators and elevator manufacturers failed to address the hidden hazard (despite a simple solution and even as children were killed and injured) a member of the Senate committee called an independent investigation into the CPSC’s handling of the elevator hazard.
Finally, in August 2019 the CPSC issued a statement: Protect Children from a Deadly Gap between Doors of Home Elevators. The agency now urges consumers to do the following:
- If you have an elevator in your home or in your vacation rental, make sure that the gap between doors is no more than four inches deep
- Have a qualified elevator inspector examine their home elevator for this dangerous gap and other potential safety hazards, inspecting to the latest ASME A17.1, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators.
- Dangerous gaps can be made safer by placing space guards on the back of the exterior (e., hoistway) door or installing an electronic monitoring device that deactivates the elevator when a child is detected in the gap.
- Contact their elevator manufacturer or an elevator installer to obtain these critical safety devices to address this hidden hazard.
- Elevator installers should never allow any gap greater than four inches deep to exist in an elevator entryway.
The CPSC statement has been criticized by experts within its agency and by families whose children were killed or injured in home elevator accidents. They say that “a warning is not enough. A real fix is needed for these elevators that keeps families safe from this known hazard.”
Home Elevator Child Injury attorney Jeffrey Killino believes the elevator industry needs to be held accountable for placing children at risk for known home elevator safety issues that can lead to death and catastrophic injuries.
Attorney Jeffrey Killino is not only an experienced lawyer — he is also a child advocate. When a home elevator child injury or death occurs, he has the know-how and resources to guide you through the legal process to get what you and your family are entitled to. If your child has died or suffered a traumatic injury because of a company’s negligence, Jeffrey Killino can help. Contact Jeffrey Killino today at 877-875-2927.