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Most people don’t have an elevator in their home, but the death of a toddler brought the dangers of home elevators to light. In homes with an elevator extra thought and care is need to make sure children in the home are safe. Many children have been killed after getting trapped between the doors of home elevators.

A recent article by The Washington Post discusses those dangers at length and tells the story of Fletcher Hartz, a two year old who died when caught between the elevator doors at his grandparents’ home.  Fletcher died after being crushed in his home’s elevator. Sadly, this could have been prevented and startlingly it is something the elevator industry knew about for over 70 years: “That children caught between the doors had been killed and injured when crushed by moving elevators when their tiny bodies collided with the door frame above or fell into the elevator shaft below,” according to The Washington Post article.

Elevator Companies Could Have Done More

The article goes on to report that there were “Corporate memos going back to at least 1943 highlighted the hazard. Lawsuits filed on behalf of dead and injured children since 2001 further spelled out the risk. In 2005, several elevator experts tried to change the nation’s elevator safety code to shrink the door gap – and were rejected. After more accidents, the elevator code finally changed in 2017, but it applied only to new installations. Nothing was done to fix hundreds of thousands of existing elevators, despite a problem that could be solved with a $100 space guard, according to elevator experts.”

Staggering Statistics

There are three types of elevators:

  • Passenger
  • Freight
  • Limited Use/Limited Application (LULA) Home Personnel

Each year, 27 people are killed in elevator accidents according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Over 10,000 people are injured from elevators due to door malfunction and misalignment of the elevator with the floor.

Statement of Commissioner Elliot F. Kaye on the Deadly Hazard Associated with Residential Elevators

The list of the most frequent elevator defects and failures are:

  • Pulley system malfunction/mechanical breakdown causing a rapid drop in the elevator shaft
  • An open shaft or faulty doors at elevator entry
  • Faulty wiring, elevator control malfunction, or electrocution
  • Incomplete repairs, maintenance, or inspections by unqualified personnel
  • Failure of elevator to line up with door Passenger entrapment, heat from fire, or water from sprinklers

While elevators in homes are small in comparison to elevators in businesses, many accidents could have been prevented. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an elevator accident, we can help.

Home elevators have killed and injured kids for decades. Safety regulators won’t order a simple fix.


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About The Author

Picture of Wayne Hogan

Wayne Hogan

Wayne Hogan, a Jacksonville native, has been with the firm since 1977. He graduated from Florida State University, where he received both his bachelor’s and J.D. degrees. He specializes in all areas of personal injury law. In addition to participating in many professional associations, he and his wife, Pat, are also actively involved in the community.