Automatic doors provide easy access to millions of people entering and exiting buildings every day, but it is easy to become oblivious to the powerful machinery and technology that makes these doors work. Injuries can occur when business owners or managers fail to provide safe environments for the people who frequent the property.
There are various types of automatic doors, which use different types of sensors and machinery to open and close the doors. Malfunctioning parts or sensors are the most common causes of automatic door related injuries.
The types of injuries are relative to the severity of the malfunction. The following are the most common types of injuries:
- Pinch Point Accidents: This is when a victim suffers injuries when their hand, foot, or other limb gets caught between moving parts of a sliding automatic door. The point where the moving parts intersect with the body part is referred to as a pinch point.
- Blunt Force: Doors that swing in the wrong direction, fail to open, or close prematurely can cause trauma to those who are hit with the door or walk into it.
- Lacerations: If a door strikes a person hard enough for the glass in the door to break, it can cause deep lacerations that require medical attention.
- Overhead Crush: This is common in garages with automatic garage doors and may result in serious injury to the head, neck, and brain.
It is the sole responsibility of property owners to make sure that their property is safe for patrons on the property. In order to ensure that all automatic doors are operating safely, they must perform routine inspections and repairs. Future inspections after door installation can reveal the need to repair or replace parts that have been broken due to wear and tear. If a patron is injured on the premises, the property owner may be held liable for the cost of the victim’s medical treatment, expenses, and lost financial opportunities (missed work), and pain and suffering.
A building owner is liable for its negligent maintenance of an automatic door which causes it to harm a person. However, the liability of landowners or possessors vary depending on the classification of the victim and the victim’s status on the property. Generally, visitors fall into two categories:
Invitee: An invitee is a person who has come on to the property as a paying customer or for the benefit of the landowner. Invitees are owed the highest standard of care and the landowner should take all reasonable steps to make the premises safe by warning the invitees of all dangerous conditions that is known to the landowner. This is the most common type of victim, entering commercial or business premises and becoming injured by a malfunctioning automatic door. Since defective doors are not always obvious to the invitees, the landowner owes these invitees a duty to make the environment safe
Licensee: A licensee is an individual who enters the premises for non-business or commercial purposes for their own benefit, such as a social guest or friend. The landowner must repair or warn of all dangerous conditions on premises that is not obvious and apparent to the licensee. There is no duty on the part of the landowner to inspect.
If you have been injured by an automatic door, a personal injury attorney can help. It is important to do a prompt investigation, make sure evidence is preserved, and have an independent inspection done of the automatic door. Proving your case can be difficult, but our experienced attorneys at Rinehardt Law Firm will fight to protect your rights.