In May of 2017, the New York City Comptroller released a report on the safety inspections on subway escalators for the New York subway system. The results were not pretty. Many of them had significant defects that required a shutdown of the escalator until it was repaired. Every year, about 10,000 people become injured in an escalator accident. Many of them are children. This is fewer than the 12,000 people who die in staircase falls every year. However, escalators have their own particular risks and carry much more danger compared to elevators. If you experienced an injury due to a malfunctioning escalator, contact our personal injury attorneys today.
How Escalators Hurt People
There are two main ways that escalators injure riders. The first is that they cause the rider to fall down or off. The second is by trapping the rider. Most injuries are due to the first cause, though the second gets a lot of press due to the severe trauma it can cause. Partial or complete loss of body parts is not uncommon in entrapment cases.
Safety Defects from Malfunctioning Escalators:
The majority of people inured on escalators are young children and the elderly. Some of the safety defects to look out for are:
- Is the handrail moving smoothly? If the handrail isn’t synced up with the stairs or isn’t moving at all, it can jerk a rider and cause them to fall.
- Are any steps broken or missing? It’s unlikely an escalator with a missing step will be operating, but a broken step might still let the device run unsafely.
- Is the escalator stalled? Don’t get on it! Despite the joke that a broken escalator becomes “stairs,” a brake locks those steps. If that brake becomes worn or released, those escalator steps will start moving from your weight and carry you with it.
- Are there protrusions along the wall? Sometimes a screw or a rivet pokes out more than it should. This could catch on a person’s clothing and pull them off-balance.
- Is there a gap larger than a pencil width between the stairs and the sidewall? This is an entrapment risk. Kids can become injured by letting their shoes rub up against the wall. The friction melts the shoe rubber and exposes socks and feet which are small enough to fit into the gap. Clothing like long jeans, saris, and shoelaces can become caught in this gap as well. Very young children have become injured by reaching their hand into this gap.
- How’s the comb plate? The comb plate is the part at the top and the bottom where you stand before getting onto the escalator. It aligns the stairs and brushes out material that people drop on the escalator. If there is a misalignment, a gap could form that creates a trip or entrapment hazard. If one of the teeth is missing, it can catch a shoelace.
What To Do In An Escalator Accident
If you become injured in an escalator accident, you need to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Escalator owners must maintain their equipment and cover the costs of those who become injured in these accidents. Don’t feel that you can’t sue if the City owns the escalator. We have been able to secure significant financial compensation for people injured in subway escalator accidents.