Partially Blind, Elderly Woman Falls Down Elevator Shaft in New York City
On November 28, 2018, a 66-year-old partially blind woman fell into an open elevator shaft in New York City building late afternoon. Josephine Camtor, a resident of that building for about a year, was entering the first-floor elevator, but didn’t realize that the elevator wasn’t there. She stepped inside the shaft and crashed down into the basement. According to her family, Camtor is completely blind in one eye. Firefighters and police rushed to the scene, where they found Camtor lying in the elevator shaft in pain, fire officials said. Rescuers were able to remove her from the basement level and take her to an ambulance. She was rushed to Kings County Hospital with multiple injuries but was expected to survive. Her grand-daughter said the elevator has been frequently out of order, but she has never seen the door open to an empty shaft. Another resident of the building stated that ‘the elevator has been a problem and had been shut. It’s always not working, but not like this’.
Our New York City elevator accident lawyers know that the most common cause of elevator accidents is an inadequate preventative maintenance program. Elevators have numerous working parts, including drives, shafts, cables, locks, counter-weights and countless other inter-dependent mechanical components, all of which need to be maintained for an elevator to work properly. According to records from the Department of Buildings, complaints about the elevator in the building date back to 2005. In 2018 alone, six complaints were filed about a faulty elevator, all of which have been marked “resolved” by the department. Fire officials said the cause of the incident was under investigation and the Department of Buildings would be called to the scene.
Our New York City attorneys who handle elevator accident cases know that the elevator maintenance and service company is usually at fault, and is responsible for personal injuries and wrongful death sustained because of negligent elevator maintenance. The first place to look is the elevator maintenance log, which is required to be kept in the elevator room and which documents exactly what was and was not done. Also the failure of Owner to direct Contractor to take any particular precaution particular shall not excuse Contractor from liability in the event of damage or injury to persons or to property.
New York Courts have traditionally applied the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur to elevator cases, which means the thing speaks for itself. Our New York City elevatory accident attorneys know that since elevator accidents don’t happen unless the elevator is poorly maintained, it may be reasonably inferred that the elevator door malfunction is an event that would not occur in the absence of negligence. Under the doctrine of Res ipsa loquitur it may be considered that one is presumed to be negligent if he/she/it had exclusive control of whatever caused the injury even though there is no specific evidence of an act of negligence, and the accident would not have happened without negligence. Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin term meaning “the thing speaks for itself”. The traditional elements needed to prove negligence through the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur include:
- The harm would not ordinarily have occurred without someone’s negligence;
- The instrumentality of the harm was under the exclusive control of the defendant at the time of the likely negligent act;
- The plaintiff did not contribute to the harm by his own negligence.
There has been some change in the modern application of the above elements. The “exclusive control” element has been softened in modern cases to a less strict standard, where the plaintiff must prove that other responsible causes, including the conduct of the plaintiff and third persons, are sufficiently eliminated by the evidence. Our Manhattan elevator accident lawyers will continue to represent people who are injured in elevator accidents.