Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Escalator incident leads to lawsuit in New Jersey

A New Jersey family is filing suit against Simon Property Group and an escalator manufacturer after a terrifying escalator incident in a Pennsylvania mall resulted in the amputation of a 7-year-old’s toes on his right foot in 2014.

According to NJ.com, the boy and his family were shopping at the Oxford Valley Mall (owned by Simon Property Group) in Langhorne, Penn. on Dec. 14, 2014 when the boy’s foot became trapped in the escalator while he was riding it down.

The boy’s foot became trapped off the side of one of the steps, and then kept moving downward, but luckily somebody was vigilant and responded quick enough to hit the emergency stop button on the escalator, preventing more tragic damage.

Still, the boy was trapped and in obvious danger as fire and medical emergency crews worked for about a half hour to free the child. He was rushed to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and wound up needing all of his toes on his right foot amputated. He then required follow-up treatment and procedures following the amputation.

The family is suing Simon Property Group and the escalator’s manufacturer, The Schindler Corp., due to the irreversible emotional damage, physical harm to their child and the expensive medical bills that they were charged as a result of the incident. The suit alleges that both defendants are guilty of negligence in both the maintenance and repair of the escalator. Neither of the defendants have commented publicly on the matter.

Escalator incidents not uncommon

According to the American Association for Justice, for every one accident that occurs on an elevator, 18 more will happen on an escalator. They report that injuries on escalators have been rising annually, going from about 4,900 incidents reported in 1990 to over 12,200 incidents in 2013.

Senior citizens (people aged 65 and up) and children under the age of 14 suffer from these incidents disproportionately high, and those two demographics averaged 60 percent of escalator incidents between 1990 and 1994. In 2011 alone, there were nearly 5,000 people aged 65 or older treated in emergency rooms for escalator-related incidents.

Although the story of the New Jersey family is an especially tragic one, entrapment in an escalator actually is a very rare incident. The mass majority of escalator incidents involve falls. According to the U.S. Product Safety Commission, 21 of 27 escalator-related deaths from 1985 to 1999 were due to falls.

Negligence is a real concern

When it comes to escalators, both the escalator manufacturer and the property manager that draws up a contract with the escalator manufacturer have legal responsibilities to maintain the safety and functionality of the escalator. Regular maintenance and safety checks are essential, and must be enforced by the property manager if not honored by the escalator manufacturer.

Escalator incidents may sometimes be caused by user error, but the risk of injury can be greatly minimized with routine checks and proper maintenance, as well as quick responses to shut down an escalator that is not functioning properly. In the case of an escalator malfunctioning, signage should be posted visibly and it should be clearly obstructed so that nobody will accidentally try to use the escalator.

If you or anybody you love has been injured in an escalator-related incident where negligence may have been involved, you are entitled to financial compensation to help pay for your medical expenses and wages lost from time off work, as well as money for emotional and physical damages that resulted.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience dealing with every different kind of personal injury case, and specialize in holding negligent parties accountable for their carelessness. Call us for a free consultation today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.