While escalators tend to be among the safest modes of transportation, when an escalator fails, the consequences can be extreme. This is especially true for children, whose smaller fingers and toes are more susceptible to harm if required safety devices are missing or fail.
Marder, Eskesen & Nass, Esqs. recently obtained $850,000 in a premises liability case for a young child whose foot became entrapped in an escalator as a result of the absence of required safety devices.
Unknown to the seven-year-old girl and her family as they ascended the escalator, an eight-inch section of combplate teeth (the interlocking metallic grooves between the escalators steps and the top or bottom plate) was missing. As she reached the top of the escalator, her small foot became wedged between the moving steps and the top plate, causing serious lacerations and fractures of three toes. This accident could have been prevented, had the escalator been operating with its safety devices in proper working order.
When working correctly, modern escalators have many safety features, including combplate teeth, which are designed to slide one's feet onto the landing plate, even if you forget to lift your feet at the end of the escalator; combplate impact switches, which are designed to automatically stop an escalator in the even an item becomes trapped between the escalator's step and the landing combplate; side skirt brushes, which are designed to keep feet away from the escalator's edge, where they might become entrapped; smart braking systems, designed to gradually slow the machine in the event of a stop, and emergency stop buttons, when all else goes wrong.
While nothing can prevent every escalator accident, particularly if safety devices fail or are missing, here are a few tips to keep in mind when travelling on an escalator, especially when travelling with small children:
- Never let children ride escalators unattended;
- Be sure shoe laces are tied before riding an escalator;
- Keep feet away from the edges, especially with sandals, crocs or other soft shoes;
- Be alert for broken or missing combplate teeth at the bottom or top of an escalator;
- Hold the handrail and reposition your hand if the handrail is running too slow or too fast; and
- Know where the emergency stop button is located, so that you may be prepared in the event of an emergency.
If you have any questions, the lawyers at Marder, Eskesen & Nass, Esqs. can help.