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When a trip on an escalator ends in a trip to the hospital

You could take the stairs, but why? A perfectly good escalator is right next to the stairs, which would get you to the next floor more quickly. You've probably used an escalator thousands of times, but it only takes one time for an accident to occur that could send you to the hospital with serious injuries. Occasionally, news outlets report that someone suffered injuries while using an escalator, but that seems to do little to stem the flow of people using them on a daily basis.

Across the United States, escalators make approximately 105 billion, yes billion, passenger trips up and down each year. These moving stairs often see continuous use in many retail, public and commercial buildings. Like any other mechanical device, this causes wear and tear on their many parts and mechanisms. Even the smallest defect, malfunction or broken part could easily lead to disaster. 

What could go wrong with an escalator?

Many of the accidents that occur on escalators come from one of the following common defects or maintenance issues:

  • Screws are missing or loose.
  • Steps are missing or broken.
  • Escalator track teeth are missing.
  • The space between the steps and the sides is too large.

In addition to these issues, escalators could experience general malfunctions that lead to injuries.

Common escalator accidents

Numerous types of accidents could occur on escalators, but the most common include the following:

  • Clothing, shoes or hair get caught in the escalator.
  • A comb plate entraps you.  
  • You are trapped between steps.
  • A handrail catches your finger.

Passengers slipping and falling on escalators also occurs. Research indicates that the majority of these accidents tend to involve older people. Cases involving amputations, head, back or neck trauma, and even suffocation have occurred over the years.

If an escalator abruptly stops, the force could throw you forward or cause you to fall down. Furthermore, you don't even necessarily need to ride an escalator to suffer an injury. The debris from a sudden part breaking could strike you. Even with the implementation of technological advancements to escalators, accidents still happen.

What do you do if you suffer serious injuries on an escalator?

If you become one of the unfortunate few who suffer serious injuries in an escalator accident, you may wonder where to turn and who may be responsible. Most people -- whether here in Pennsylvania or elsewhere -- tend not to think twice about using an escalator even though it could contain a defective part, receive poor maintenance or needs repairs.

Property owners and managers should take the time to ensure that the escalators on the property remain in good working order. Annual inspections by city and state officials help keep you safe, but they only happen once a year. What happens during the other 364 days of the year? The failure of a property owner or manager to maintain and repair escalators could easily cause injuries.

In addition, escalator manufacturers owe you a duty to provide a safe product. Recalls for defective parts do not receive the same attention as those for other products such as automobiles. You could step onto a moving death trap and not even know it.

You could benefit from contacting an attorney to discuss your situation. You may have avenues available to you to receive compensation for your injuries.

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