Langsam Law LLP

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Is the Elevator in Your Building Safe?

Posted October 10, 2019

New York City has the world’s oldest stock of elevators. The City’s first passenger elevator was installed more than 160 years ago, and some seem like they haven’t been serviced since. If you’ve lived in New York long, you probably have an elevator story. But what seems like an annoyance can actually be a grave danger.

On August 22, 2019, 30-year old Sam Waisbren was on his way to work–but when he began to exit the elevator, the car plummeted to the basement, crushing him to death against the shaft wall. Residents of the luxury building in Kips Bay had complained of ongoing elevator issues, yet no formal complaints about that particular elevator had been filed with the Department of Buildings in the past decade. The building’s other elevator was not operational.

The investigation into whether the elevator’s safety mechanisms may have been tampered with continue. In the meantime, Waisbren’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both the lift manufacturer and the building.

An elevator-related hazard does not need to reach the level of this horrific incident in order for the building owner, management, elevator manufacturer, and maintenance company to be considered negligent. Uneven leveling can lead to trip-and-fall injuries. Elevator doors opening between floors can expose passengers to fall risks. Malfunctions in the pulley system can cause the car to jerk or even freefall, injuring occupants. 

If you or someone you know has experienced an injury due to an elevator malfunction, contact Langsam Law at 212-742-2700. If you believe the elevator in your building may be a safety hazard, file a complaint with the Department of Buildings via 311. If there is clear and present danger, dial 911.

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