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Personal Injury Claim

JR was offered a settlement of $35,000. The jury returned a verdict in her favor for $157,000, a net verdict over two times the amount offered by the RTB’s insurance company.

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Elevators and escalators are so common in our lives, most of us rarely think about them. You might use one at work, at the mall, or in a parking garage. You will probably use one or the other at the airport. You might even use one at your church or at a vacation property like a beach house, because some high-end homes and resorts now have elevators.

Elevators and escalators add convenience. Indeed, the invention of elevators led to the initial creation of tall buildings (“skyscrapers”) in major cities, fueling economic growth. However, accidents on elevators and escalators result in about 30 deaths and 17,000 serious injuries a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Elevators: Marvelous and Treacherous

In the days before elevators, structures were not built more than a few floors high, for good reason: no one wanted to climb the stairs to their office on the eleventh floor, let alone the 58th floor. The invention of the elevator by Elisha Otis changed all that.

Modern elevators are much safer than the original ones, as technological advancements have improved them. Still, accidents do occur. An average of ten passengers a year die in elevator mishaps. The most common reasons, by percentage, for elevator injury and death are:

  • The door malfunctions (37 percent). It either does not close properly or fails to open. A rider may be thrown off balance by a door, be hit by a door, or get caught in or between doors.
  • Abrupt starts or stops (27 percent). Sudden movement can cause passengers to fall or be thrown about, impacting other people or objects within the elevator. Abrupt starts and stops are usually the fault of power loss or the speed of ascent or descent being too high.
  • Misleveling (25 percent). The elevator may not stop in line with the floor, resulting in trips and falls. Sometimes misleveling results in entrapment or stopping between floors. If someone tries to get out despite the misleveling, they can be injured or killed when the elevator begins moving, and it is the most common reason for elevator-related death.
  • Other causes (11 percent). This category can include open-shaft falls, faulty electrical wiring that shocks passengers, or malfunctioning of the pulley system, causing the elevator to fail and fall to the bottom of the shaft.

Many elevator accidents involve those who work on them. An average of 15 elevator workers die each year in accidents. Elevator installers and repair persons have the sixth-highest death rate of occupational-related fatalities across construction industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The most common causes of death are falling into an open shaft and getting caught between moving parts.

One relatively new wrinkle involves elevators installed in private homes. There have been at least two Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls of elevators installed in private homes in the past two years because of catastrophic injuries of children. It should be noted that some states neither inspect nor regulate the use of elevators inside homes—something to consider if you rent a vacation property with an installed elevator.

Escalators: Helpful and Hazardous

A trio of men, Reno, Wheeler, and Seeberger, are generally credited with inventing and refining the first escalators or “moving staircases.” Escalators create convenience in areas where an elevator would be inconvenient or impractical, moving greater numbers of persons between floors faster than an elevator could.

However, the frequency of escalator injuries is about 15 times as common as for elevators, even though there are fewer escalators than elevators in the U.S., largely because the potential for mishap is greater. Injuries and deaths that occur while riding on an escalator generally arise from one or more of the following situations:

  • Side-of-the-step or between-step entrapment of clothing, shoes, or body parts
  • Comb plate entrapment of clothing, shoes, or body parts. Comb plates are the parts with “teeth” found at the tops and bottoms of escalators.
  • Finger entrapment along the moving rails, especially with children
  • Broken or missing steps that result in the rider’s falling into the moving machinery. There have been at least two cases of this in New York, with one at JFK International Airport, the fifth busiest airport in the US.

People can be injured or killed by falling off escalators as well. In fact, most escalator accidents are caused by falls. In 2011, a child in Massachusetts fell 18 feet from an escalator onto a display case, dying the following day. However, such falls occur more frequently in the elderly, especially among women.

In general, children five years and under and adults 65 and older are the ones most likely to be injured while using escalators, probably because of unsteadiness while standing and the difficulties of stepping on or off the moving stairs.

Elevator and Escalator Negligence

In some cases, property owners can be held liable for injuries and deaths because the elevator or escalator in question was not properly maintained. Manufacturers, too, can be held liable for faulty design and manufacturing defects. Inadequate or incorrect installation and inspection can also hold certain parties liable for injury and death. All of these come under the legal heading of negligence.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

When something goes wrong, we are left to wonder.

If you believe your elevator or escalator accident was caused by negligence, consider hiring an Indiana personal injury lawyer who will provide you with competent and compassionate representation with a “client first” approach. That’s exactly what you’ll get with attorney Mike Stephenson. His entire legal team is committed to doing whatever is necessary to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing Indiana personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. Don’t lose the opportunity to obtain the money you need to put your life back on track and to make your family’s future financially secure. Contact Mike Stephenson today by calling 1-855-206-2555 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form. At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.

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Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve


The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.


Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.


The American Board of Trial Advocates is an invitation-only organization for attorneys of “high personal character and honorable reputation.” ABOTA works for the preservation of the civil jury trial, “Justice by the People,” and supports the right of a jury trial.


Our attorneys are proven advocates and trial attorneys. They have served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and have handled litigation in 18 states