REPRESENTING KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON PROPERTY OWNERS, SERVICE COMPANIES AND LIFT MANUFACTURERS
Elevators are safer now than they have ever been. Most people will never need to worry about being hurt by one. Occasionally, injuries still occur due to problems with design, maintenance or the actions of users. At The Law Office of Neil T. Lindquist, we defend Washington building owners and maintenance companies against personal injury and indemnity claims.
DETERMINING WHO IS LIABLE FOR AN ELEVATOR INJURY
Elevator injury cases present unique issues because there are often multiple parties involved. The plaintiff (injured person) generally brings a claim against a building owner or property owner. The property owner often makes a third-party claim against a maintenance or service company. Responsibility for the injury is generally determined by whether the plaintiff’s actions caused their own injury as well as by determining which defendant was in control of the lift at the time.
BRINGING AND DEFENDING INDEMNITY CLAIMS
The maintenance contract between a building owner and an elevator service company is one of the most crucial pieces of evidence in an elevator injury case. This document lays out the duties of each party and may explicitly state who has control over the elevator. Some agreements contain provisions requiring service companies to indemnify property owners. This means that the service companies have agreed to be the ones who defend the case and pay any damages if the plaintiff’s claim is successful. While our close reading of the service agreement is often enough to determine whether a building owner can shift blame onto a maintenance company, some states consider elevator safety a nondelegable duty and hold the property owner liable regardless of what the contract says. In these cases, a later claim can be made against the mechanics for indemnity.
UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF NEGLIGENCE IN ELEVATOR INJURY CLAIMS
It is rare for the law to hold someone responsible just because someone else was injured. Under negligence law, there needs to be a duty to act safely and a violation of that duty must have occurred. Furthermore, the injury needs to stem directly from that violation. In the case of injuries caused by defects on properties, it is generally required that the responsible party knew or should have known of a defect in order to be held liable. This means that there must be notice or some reason for a defendant to know that there is a problem with an elevator. When a sudden failure occurs with no warning, we are often able to prove that our clients were not negligent because there was no failure to act.
DEFENDING AGAINST RES IPSA LOQUITUR CLAIMS
The law sometimes allows plaintiffs to bring claims without proof of negligence under a doctrine called res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself). In these cases, the plaintiff must prove three elements. First, the injury must be a type that normally doesn’t occur without negligence. Second, the injury must be caused by something entirely within the defendant’s control. Third, the plaintiff’s actions may not have contributed in any way. We defend against all three of these elements by showing that:
- There is a likely explanation for the accident that doesn’t involve negligence.
- The elevator was not entirely under your control because both the property owner and the maintenance company had the right and ability to access it.
- The plaintiff contributed by using the elevator improperly or dangerously.
We use experienced investigators and experts to collect evidence that proves you are not liable for the injuries in question.
Trust our Kirkland, Washington attorneys to plan your elevator accident defense
Elevator injury cases require an understanding of complex trial procedures as well as traditional injury law. The attorneys at the Kirkland, Washington law firm of The Law Office of Neil T. Lindquist have experience representing property owners and elevator service companies against civil claims. Call 425-372-7799 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with an elevator injury defense attorney.
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