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California residents should be wary of swing-door elevators

For California residents, climbing the stairs can be troublesome and tiring. That is where elevators come in. However, after several accidents showed some elevators may do more harm than good, residents should be especially wary of elevators.

For one couple, a swing-door elevator was their dream house's finishing touch. It was very practical, since the couple's son had just begun to walk, and the stairs were blocked by safety gates. In addition, the boy's elderly grandmother lived downstairs. The elevator made it easy for everyone to get around the house without using the stairs. However, one incident changed that couple's opinion about the elevator.

Three years ago, their son, then a three-year-old, was able to open the elevator's swing door. He got trapped between the elevator car and swing door as it closed and latched. As the elevator was turned on, the boy was dragged upward. Eventually, he was pinned between the elevator car and swing-door. Almost suffocating, he was eventually freed by emergency responders. The boy, now 6-years-old, is quadriplegic, unable to speak, and suffers from brain-damage.

Although the incident seemed like a freak accident, there have been similar cases from the past. Some of these even led to deaths. This has prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to start an investigation on home elevators. Such swing-doors can be installed with safety features for an added cost, but manufacturers have been reticent to risk their market share by making such features standard. Of course, parents and other consumers are often unaware of the risks. Around 5,000 such swing-door elevators are sold yearly.

Manufacturers should always put a premium on consumer safety. If Los Angeles consumers are injured by unsafe products or defective products, they can hold the manufacturer legally responsible through a product liability claim. The legal action can help obtain compensation for any accident-related damages.

Source: Miami Herald, "'Swing-door' elevators blamed for child injuries," Shawn Hubler, Dec. 18, 2013

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