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Workplace elevator incident results in $13 million award

A jury has awarded a woman $13 million following a harrowing elevator ride. The woman was injured in a high rise, where she experienced a number of falls in the elevator between the 23rd floor and the basement. She has suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression since the incident, when she sustained partial paralysis of her left leg, which left her wheelchair bound for some years.

When the mechanic for the building's onsite elevator maintenance firm serviced the malfunctioning elevator, he did not evacuate the woman from the car, but instead sent her down to the basement. This resulted in another set of falls. The woman's lawsuit claimed that the company "grossly mishandled the response to the malfunction" and failed to take into account the woman's safety.

Most workplaces have elevators to comply with accessibility regulations, and many are located in high rise buildings. Most people wouldn't think twice about getting in the elevator to head up to the 23rd floor, nor would they consider that they may be in danger in their workplace. Unfortunately, this case shows how the negligence of the on-property maintenance staff contributed to very serious and life-altering injuries.

Her award from the jury reflects the extent of her injuries, as well as the sympathy of her situation. A workplace accident like an ill-handled elevator malfunction could happen to anyone, without any fault of the victim. Her injuries were preventable, yet she has suffered for over 10 years as a result.

Source: The South Florida Sun Sentinel, "Elevator fall nets woman $13 million jury award," Robert Nolin, Sept. 7, 2012

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