A fall on an escalator can cause terrible injuries. The moving stairs can cause serious cuts, grab loose clothing, and send a person tumbling out of control. Escalator-related injuries cause about 10,000 visits to emergency rooms in the United States each year. In some situations a person who is injured by an escalator may have reason to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. A fall on an escalator can happen for a number of reasons. These can be separated into several general categories:
1. Falls caused by improper maintenance.
An escalator that isn’t adequately maintained poses a danger to every rider, and the owner/operator may be liable for any resulting injuries under a theory of premises liability. Operators of escalators in public places, like malls, have a legal obligation to maintain them in reasonably safe condition for use. If the operator knows, or should know, about a dangerous condition, it must take steps to fix the problem. Sprague v. Lucky Stores, 109 Nev. 247 (1993).
2. Falls caused by other riders.
Someone busily rushing up or down an escalator could easily bump into another rider and cause that rider to fall. Given the inherent extra dangerousness of riding on an escalator, a person who aggressively pushes others out of the way may be responsible for any resulting injuries under a general negligence theory, or in more extreme cases may be liable for recklessness or even battery.
What matters is not that the defendant believed the bump wouldn’t be significant, but that the injured plaintiff was hurt. For example, it doesn’t matter that the defendant didn’t see that the person he was shoving was elderly and potentially unstable. Aggressively pushing past people on an escalator creates a risk for everyone.
3. Falls caused by a rider’s negligence.
People who ride on escalators bear a degree of responsibility for their own safety. A properly maintained escalator has a degree of dangerousness even in ordinary operation. That is why escalators bear signs instructing passengers to hold on to handrails and advising against using them with strollers or other carts. An operator sued by someone who falls due to nothing more than his or her own infirmity or clumsiness may have a successful argument that the rider assumes the risk of injury by stepping onto the escalator. This can apply even more to someone who rides despite having known balance problems, whether from a medical condition or drunkenness. A person who rides while knowing he or she is unfit may be committing an act of negligence which frees the operator from liability.
For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for personal injuries. If you have been injured in a fall on a escalator please reach out to us to discuss your legal options. For a free attorney consultation call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.