While you may not give much thought to the automatic doors you see every day at grocery stores, hotels, hospitals, and airports, it’s important to remember these are mechanical devices.
Unfortunately, while they are convenient amenities, they are still machines that can malfunction. Sensors may become obstructed and working parts get worn with age – and when they do break, they can cause serious injuries or even death.
If you’ve recently been hurt by an automatic door, you may have some questions about who is responsible and what your rights are to compensation.
Here’s what you need to know about automatic door injuries and proceeding with a personal injury case.
Who Is Responsible for an Electronic Door Accident?
By law, all property owners must take steps to ensure anyone who enters the premises is safe from injury.
Part of the responsibility to keep visitors safe means all mechanical devices should receive regular maintenance and safety inspections. If these measures are neglected, they can result in serious injuries to unsuspecting victims.
Fortunately for victims, the law is on their side.
An automatic door that provides access to or egress from a privately-owned property is an integral part of that building. Building owners owe an obligation to ensure the safety of the people who enter the facility through these doors.
Therefore, when someone is injured, it is possible to file a premises liability lawsuit to hold the building owner or operator liable. If they are found to be negligent, they will be held responsible for paying for the injuries.
Usually, it is the building owner’s insurance company and/or the business operator who will be responsible for your compensation when an acceptable settlement for your damages is reached.
Can Anyone Else Be Responsible for an Automatic Door Injury?
While land and business owners may certainly be to blame in many instances, other sources may be responsible, too.
Who Is Covered Under Liability Law?
While landowners may not be able to correct every single unsafe condition – especially those they are unaware of – they must use ordinary care to keep the property safe.
There are generally three classes of people who are protected under liability laws:
- Invitees: People who enter the property or facility for the benefit of the owner, including employees, paying customers, or other parties conducting business dealings (like vendors), are considered invitees.
For example, invitees of the Atlanta airport would include travelers, flight crews, restaurant employees, ticketing agents, and maintenance and janitorial crews.
Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care and are reasonable for taking ordinary steps to ensure their safety. The landowner is obliged to warn invitees of any dangerous conditions on the property. This is why you frequently see caution or “wet floor” signs in stores and buildings.
- Licensees: An individual who is on the premises for non-business or commercial purposes is called a licensee. This category includes social guests or friends who may or may not have been specifically invited. This group of individuals is owed a lesser standard of care than an invitee can expect. While land or business owners must still notify licensees about known hazards, property owners do not have a specific duty to inspect the premises before licensees may enter.
For example, the landowner is still required to fix dangerous problems, like a loose stair handrail, or warn the licensee of any and all dangerous conditions that are not apparent or obvious.
How Do You Prove a Property Owner Was Negligent?
As a victim of an automatic door accident in Georgia, you will be required to prove that the owner failed their responsibility to exercise ordinary care. This usually means you must demonstrate that the owner knew about the defect or danger yet did not correct it either him/herself or through an agent.
For example, if the automatic door failed previously and injured someone else, and the owner still did not fix it or place warning signs, then it would establish the fact that the property owner had knowledge of the defect.
Another way to establish negligence is to demonstrate that the owner should have known about the problem but failed to exercise reasonable care in preventing your injury. An example here might be if the owner received notification from the manufacturer that the door had been recalled or was unsafe but did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions for a fix or replacement.
What Kinds of Injuries Do Automatic Doors Cause?
People may sustain injuries from automatic doors when the doors close too quickly, fail to open, or strike the victim forcefully enough to make them fall to the ground.
Some of the most common risks associated with electronic doors are:
- Crushing hazards
- Pinched fingers or broken bones
- Becoming trapped by the door
When automatic doors malfunction or do not open to admit visitors, they can cause injuries to the nose, teeth, hips, arms, shoulders, and legs. Unfortunately, on rare occasions, catastrophic injury or even death can also occur as a result of automated door accidents.
Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to serious injury. Small bodies can become entrapped by the malfunctioning doors. And for the elderly, skull, hip or other fractures caused by impact with the door or a resulting fall can mean complications or an untimely death.
Proper maintenance and daily inspections can address defects that are not immediately obvious and prevent these unnecessary and often avoidable injuries.
What Evidence Should Be Gathered for an Automatic Door Accident Case?
In electronic door-related accidents, documentation and evidence will be necessary. The following information may need to be gathered to help you win your case for compensation:
- Surveillance videos – These can be obtained through the business, mall or facility where the accident occurred.
- Inspection Reports – Building owners or operators should have these reports to show when the door was last inspected as well as what was done to ensure that the door was operating properly.
- Previous injury reports – Any records that demonstrate that your accident was not the first.
- Eyewitness interviews – If you’re able, collect the names and contact information of anybody who saw your accident, including the business’ employees.
- Medical records and ambulance reports – You should see a physician following an accident, even if you think you are not seriously injured. Pain and other symptoms may not show up right away, so it’s always a good idea to have a checkup to be sure.
Much of this evidence will be in the hands of the owner or operator of the building. While you may request these documents, a subpoena will likely be necessary to obtain them. After you’ve filed a lawsuit, the court will provide subpoena forms you can complete and serve. However, if you choose to hire a lawyer, they will handle this for you.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for an Automatic Door Injury Case?
If you or someone you care about has been injured in an electronic door accident, it’s a good idea to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Most personal injury experts offer a free initial consultation to help you understand your rights and the best course of action for you in moving forward. Many accident lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis, which means you will not be charged until and unless you win your case.
Call the personal injury experts at The Millar Law Firm today to make an appointment for your free case evaluation. 770-400-0000