Escalator Injury Attorneys Explain the Law in Georgia
When an injury occurs on an escalator in Georgia, the first thing to know is that these conveyances are heavily regulated with a strict inspection routine and a statewide incident reporting requirement. When a person in hurt on an escalator whether because they were caught in the combs or it jerked or stopped suddenly, the incident must be reported under Georgia law. OCGA § 8-2-106(c)
Escalator Injury Incidents Must be Reported in Georgia
Georgia Rule “120-3-25-.07 – Reporting of Accidents” says in part,
“(1) All incidents involving Personal Injury sustained by reason of the operation or malfunction of an elevator, escalator, manlift, moving walk or power dumbwaiter, platform lifts and stairway chairlifts, including death shall be reported as follows:
(a) For incidents in which actual Personal Injury is observed or reported by the owner, operator, lessee, or maintenance company at the scene at the time of the incident, immediately by telephone to the Office on the same day or by noon the next business day. The elevator, escalator, manlift, moving walk, or power dumbwaiter, platform lifts and stairway chairlifts, involved shall be taken immediately out of service and no work will be done to the equipment unless otherwise advised (see subparagraph (2) below).
(c) For all incidents, the owner, operator, lessee shall file a written report, including witness statements, within seven days of the date of the incident or of the date the incident became known to the owner, operator, lessee, or maintenance company, whichever is later.
(2) Upon receiving a telephonic report or emailed report, the Office may at its discretion determine whether or not to investigate an incident. At the time of the report, the Office shall inform the owner, operator, lessee, maintenance company, or agent reporting the incident whether the Office be investigating and when the elevator, escalator, manlift, moving walk or power dumbwaiter, platform lifts and stairway chairlifts, involved may be repaired or put back in service. In its discretion, the Office may require a telephonic conference with the certified elevator mechanic or Maintenance Company prior to making a decision to investigate an incident.
(3) All telephonic and written reports for accidents involving personal injury shall include the name(s), address, phone number and injuries of the person(s) injured and any witnesses. It will also include a description of the accident.”
While the above rules seem clear, they are not always followed. Part of the problem stems from the fact that the government agencies, the Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office, charged with investigating these incidents simply cannot respond to every incident. The requirement that it be reported telephonically does not always have a paper trial and something may have been reported, but there is no proof.
The failure to make the report and the failure to properly investigate an injury incident can create a presumption at trial that had it been inspected, the cause of failure would have been identified.
Regardless the key issue always remains, were proper maintenance routines followed. Remember that sudden unexpected breakage or failure is not enough to assign blame to the company, even though the standard for a common carrier is higher. “The carrier is not regarded as an insurer of his passenger’s safety against every possible source of danger; but he is bound to use all such reasonable precautions as human judgment and foresight are capable of, to make his passenger’s journey safe and comfortable.” Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority v. Rouse, 279 Ga. 311 (2005
You must prove that the company failed to follow proper care schedules or to address known problems such that the failure, and therefore the injury would have been foreseeable. The devil is in the details and your lawyer will carefully review the prior maintenance history, the incident reports and subsequent issues to find out whether the accident was preventable.
This is particularly well known with escalator incidents at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Fulton County. Unless there is a major injury, it is more than likely that the escalator maintenance company, usually KONE, will handle to investigation themselves without involving the Safety Fire Commissioner. Schindler is the common manufacturer for many of the escalators used by MARTA.
There are several major manufacturers that build these conveyances and the industry standard is for the manufacturer to enter into a maintenance and indemnity contract as well. That means if there is an injury, you will be filing the claim and the lawsuit mostly against the maker as they will indemnify the owner of the property that utilizes the escalator.
If you have an injury on an escalator, call our law Firm and discuss your options. These cases are complicated and require more than an “average Joe accident lawyer.”