While reports of ripped toes and disfigurements make it to the front page, those accidents that occur every week on Atlanta's escalators but don't involve maiming, hardly receive a mention.  Yet the truth is that every week, several people have their limbs and clothing snagged in the city's many escalators, many times leading to more than simple bruising.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution examined at least 140 such escalator injury reports that occurred till August of this year, and found that many of them took place in facilities that had multiple escalators, like the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport or the biggest shopping malls in Atlanta.  A majority of these, safety experts at Georgia's Department of Labor which is responsible for the licensing and inspections of these escalators say, is caused because of the riders themselves, and cannot be blamed on failure of the equipment. Even so, they warn that just because an escalator functions in the manner in which it's supposed to, doesn't make it completely safe.  A majority of these injuries occur when clothing or footwear gets snagged in the gaps at the sides of a moving escalator. A woman recently had her trench coat caught in the gap, pulling her down to the ground as the escalator headed down, and eventually leaving her with a dislocated shoulder before the machine could be switched off.  A 3-year-old child was injured when her Crocs shoes were sucked into the gap, leaving her with a severed toe, and unimaginable trauma.

Many injuries involving little children and escalators have been blamed on the Crocs shoes that victims were apparently wearing in most of the accidents.  Now, experts say that we might just be focusing responsibility and blame for these incidents on the wrong target.  Escalators shouldn't come with these gaps that pose a potential entrapment hazard. Period. 

Eight years ago, after one such incident, the escalator industry responded to these concerns with a set of standards for the size of these gaps, as well as an increase in friction along the edges of the escalator steps.  In 2008, there is still no information on whether these measures have actually helped reduce the number of escalator injuries, because of the lack of any serious studies or evaluations conducted since then.   We have only the escalator industry's defense of the safety of their equipment to rely on.  Meanwhile, injuries continue to occur on Atlanta's numerous escalators.

Escalator injuries can result in severe maiming, including loss of limbs and amputation of toes.  Both children and adults can be at risk when they slip through the escalator gaps, or have their limbs or clothes caught in these.  Liability for these injuries can extend from the makers of the equipment to the companies responsible for maintaining and operating these, as well as a premises liability lawsuit against the building itself.

If you've suffered injuries as a result of an escalator accident, contact an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer for a free evaluation of your case.

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