Most people step onto an escalator without giving it a second thought. They're a common fixture in shopping malls, airports, and subways - escalators move millions of people up and down floors each day. However, escalators surprisingly cause a large number of accidents.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about 10,000 people end up in the emergency room each year for injuries caused by escalators. These injuries can severely upend your life and cause you to incur expensive medical bills while also preventing you from working. If you’ve been injured on an escalator, contact a Georgia premises liability attorney for a free consultation.Escalator Injuries
The greatest risk on an escalator is that a person will slip or trip and fall. Falling down an escalator is every bit as dangerous as falling down a flight of stairs. As the person falls, they make multiple traumatic impacts with each step and with other people on the escalator. Victims can suffer many injuries during a fall, including:
- Soft-tissue injuries. Strains, sprains, and contusions make up a large number of injuries. Many soft-tissue injuries are minor and will clear up with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain management. However, particularly serious soft-tissue injuries might require surgery and rehabilitation.
- Fractures. A victim might break a bone when falling, often in the arm or leg. Serious breaks might require the insertion of a plate, screw, or pin to hold the bones together. A broken rib could spear internal organs, damaging them.
- Amputation. Sometimes, a body part like a foot or hand becomes caught in the escalator and can be crushed or torn off.
- Dislocated joints. Joints in the knees, shoulders, and elbows can become dislocated and damaged.
- Traumatic brain injury. After falling, a person might bump their head on either a step or the ground. Any traumatic blow to the head can cause the brain to stop functioning normally and lead to impaired speech, vision, balance, mobility, memory, or mood.
- Spinal cord injury. Any stretching, tearing, bruising, or shredding of the spinal cord can cause paralysis or lost sensation.
Many victims suffer from more than one of the above injuries, which only compounds the pain that they feel. It is not unusual for elderly patients to be laid up for months on end recovering from a simple break and soft-tissue injury.Risk Factors for Accidents
Analyzing escalator accidents in other countries, researchers have found some common factors that increase someone’s chances of suffering an escalator injury:
- Age. Those over age 60 make up at least 50% of escalator injuries. This might not be surprising since elderly people are sometimes less steady on their feet. However, young children are also at risk, given their small size. Small limbs can more easily become entrapped in an escalator.
- Alcohol use. About half of men who are injured have been drinking alcohol, which likewise impairs balance.
- Time of day. Women were most likely injured during the day. Men were most likely injured on Saturday evenings, which could correlate with the time when they were drinking alcohol.
There is no easy way to prevent escalator injuries apart from reducing alcohol consumption and paying close attention. Elderly people should be sure to hold firmly onto the rail so that they gain additional balance. Parents should also make sure young children do not stand too close to the side of the escalator, which can catch feet and shoelaces.Escalator Defects
Some escalator accidents, though tragic, are unavoidable and are no one’s fault. However, some accident stem from defective design or manufacture. In these cases, a Georgia premises liability attorney can help you hold the manufacturer liable for your injuries for selling an unreasonably dangerous product.
Other escalators are dangerous because they are improperly installed or maintained. You might have a cause of action for negligence against the premises owner, who owes you a duty of care to keep their property safe. When they fall below that standard, they are responsible for the injuries that their negligence has caused.Documenting Your Injuries
Soon after the accident, you should take immediate steps to document your injuries and the circumstances surrounding the escalator accident. Your Georgia premises liability attorney will find this information helpful:
- Keep all medical records
- Hold onto medical bills and receipts
- Write down your memories of what happened—Did the escalator suddenly go in reverse? Was there a sign warning you about the escalator?
- Did an employee say anything to you after the accident? For example, they might have admitted that there have been problems with the escalator.
Obtaining compensation for your injuries can be a slow process, but collecting quality evidence ahead of time can only help your case.How Slappey & Sadd can Help You
With your Georgia premises liability attorney, you can review the circumstances to identify who to sue. Escalator lawsuits are particularly complicated because you do not have easy access to investigate the escalator. Furthermore, most people will not know simply by looking at the escalator whether it is defective or inadequately maintained. For these reasons, you need a Georgia premises liability attorney in your corner who can obtain necessary information, such as maintenance and inspection records.
If you were injured on an escalator in a shopping mall, then chances are you will sue the company that owns and/or manages the mall. They owe visitors a duty to keep their escalators safe for business customers. Alternately, you might sue the manufacturer if the escalator was defective.
However, things are more complicated if you are injured on a public escalator. You might need to bring a lawsuit against a public agency responsible for the escalator’s upkeep. Generally, the state of Georgia is immune from lawsuits, but the state has waived the immunity in certain situations. To sue the state or one of its agencies, you must follow extremely detailed requirements:
- Give sufficient notice to the state
- Send the notice to the correct departments and employees
- Serve the notice within the mandated deadline
This notice is necessary to give the state a chance to settle the dispute with you. However, if you fail to follow all of the regulations, you can forfeit your chance to bring a lawsuit later on. Reach out to a premises liability attorney in Georgia for help providing adequate notice.