A 7-year-old boy was killed in a home elevator accident at a beach rental home in North Carolina just three days after federal regulators pushed another major elevator manufacturer to fix a similar problem.
According to a report in The Washington Post, the boy was trapped between the bottom of the elevator car and the home’s upper doorframe. His neck was crushed after he appeared to have gotten between the moving elevator’s inner accordion door and an outer door.
The boy’s family was reportedly visiting from Canton, Ohio, and arrived earlier that day to begin their vacation. Investigators are still looking into what precisely happened here, but they say it fits a pattern of children being crushed by residential elevators after they get trapped in a small space between two elevator doors. One door moves with the elevator car while the other sits at the floor landing. Both elevator doors lock closed when the elevator moves.
The Post reports that the elevator industry has known about the danger of these products for decades now. The fix is simple and cheap – a $100 plastic or foam insert to block the gap. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) decided not to require companies to recall or repair the elevators, but instead published a safety alert on its website and mailed notices to governors in each state. In the meantime, there have been a number of fatal and near-fatal elevator accidents.
Between 1981 and 2019, at least eight children were killed and two more were seriously injured in elevator entrapments, according to CPSC records and media reports. But industry experts say that number is significantly higher. Despite so many tragedies, it wasn’t until last year that the CPSC approved its first-ever safety recall for residential elevators when Otis Elevator Co. voluntarily agreed to inspect and repair about 5,000 home elevators.
It is unconscionable that these elevator manufacturers have failed to recall these dangerous elevators and provide a fix that costs about $100, despite knowing about the dangers they pose, particularly to young children. This is yet another example of companies putting profits over the safety and well-being of their consumers.
If you or a loved one has been injured by these dangerous and defective products, you may be able to hold the negligent manufacturer financially responsible for the injuries, damages, and losses caused. An experienced product defect attorney will be able to help you better understand your legal rights and options.