First Safety Recall Issued for Residential Elevators

First Safety Recall Issued for Residential Elevators

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has voted to approve its first-ever safety recall for a residential elevator because of the danger it poses to children. According to a report in The Washington Post, this decision comes after years of inaction by the agency and resistance from the industry in spite of injuries and deaths of young children crushed by elevators that all had the same, easy-to-fix problem.

The safety recall involves about 5,000 home elevators out of the estimated hundreds of thousands that could pose a risk to small children. It was voluntarily agreed to by just one manufacturer, Otis Elevator Company, even though the problem is seen across the industry. Otis is offering to repair for free its Otis or CemcoLift brand elevators from certain years that pose this hazard. But the new recall notice is seen as potentially jump-starting a stalled push by regulators to force the elevator industry to finally make home elevators safe for children.

A Problem with a Simple Fix

While home elevator deaths are rare, they are tragic and heartbreaking as they often involve young children. The danger is created by the few inches of space between a home elevator’s two doors, which is just enough to trap a child. Since 1981, at least eight children were killed and two more were seriously injured in elevator entrapments, CPSC records and media reports show. But the Post reports that the “true number” of these tragedies is unknown.

On Thanksgiving 2019, a 4-year-old boy narrowly escaped being crushed by a home elevator outside Salt Lake City. Last year, a Washington Post investigation reported that the elevator industry had known for decades about the entrapment issue. The tragic issue here is that the fix to this problem is really simple – a space guard that costs $100 to $200 to fill the door gap. The Post also detailed how some elevator companies had spent years successfully fighting off efforts by regulators and victims’ families to force the firms to warn the public and remedy the problem.

The issue with these elevators first came to light in 2013, thanks to a push by the parents of Jacob Helvey, who at age 3, was seriously injured in 2010 by an elevator at his Atlanta home. They were later joined by another family from Arkansas whose toddler had been killed in a home elevator accident in 2017. None of those deaths or other recent fatalities involved Otis elevators.

Holding Manufacturers Accountable

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of defectively designed home elevators, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities and pain and suffering. Families of deceased victims can seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced California personal injury lawyer can help injured victims and their families secure maximum compensation for their losses.


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