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Child Injuries and Deaths Blamed on Defective Swing-Door Elevators

swingdoorelevator.jpg Michael and Brandi Helvey thought they added the perfect finishing touch to their Georgia dream home when they installed an elevator to accommodate Michael’s mother, who was living with the couple. The elevator, a National Wheel-O-Vator Destiny, cost $20,000, but it soon seemed to be an expense well worth it. However, the family’s positive feelings about the elevator abruptly changed on Christmas Eve 2010.

Brandi Helvey went upstairs to do laundry and her then three-year-old son, Jacob, attempted to follow. Jacob stood on his tiptoes and was able to open the elevator’s outer door. The outer door, also known as the swing door, proceeded to close and latch, which trapped Jacob against the inner door. When Brandi heard noises coming from downstairs, she pressed the elevator button, which caused Jacob to be dragged upwards. Jacob was then pushed back down and feet-first into the shaft. He was caught at the neck and chest. He hung in that position for ten minutes, while his mother and neighbors tried to free him. Jacob had nearly suffocated to death when first responders arrived at the home.

Jacob is now six years old and is extremely brain damaged, quadriplegic, and unable to talk. Michael and Brandi recently learned that Jacob’s injuries were not the result of a freak accident, but rather were likely linked to a swing-door elevator issue that created horrific tragedies for others as well. The elevator industry has allegedly been aware of this issue for many years, yet the fatal threat to young children continues to exist. Based on a look at news reports, since 1995 at least seven children have died in incidents involving swing-door elevators. A lawsuit brought against the Otis Elevator Company based on a young boy’s death in 2001 revealed that thirty-four children had suffered serious, life-changing injuries or had been killed between 1983 and 1993. What’s more alarming–these statistics only cover New Jersey and southern New York State.

‘Swing-door’ elevators blamed for child injuries, www.miamiherald.com December 18, 2013


Jacob Helvey’s incident led the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to begin an investigation of home elevators this past August. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers is also taking a new look at swing-door issues. Prospective elevator buyers can now buy their swing-door elevators equipped with infrared sensors and additional safety options, if they can afford the extra cost. But the industry standard continues to be a design that increases the risk of danger to children.

Home elevators that do not come equipped with safety features to protect young children can lead to devastating, horrific injuries, including extensive brain damage, paralysis, or even death. The North Miami child injury attorneys at the Friedland Law Group are dedicated to the safety of young children. The product liability lawyers have spent over two decades working only on personal injury cases. Our attorneys have helped their clients recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for their injuries. If you or someone you love has been injured due to a defective product, call a Miami Beach personal injury attorney today at (305) 661-2008.

The Miami consumer advocates at the Friedland Law Group handle all types of personal injury cases throughout the state of Florida, including Boca Raton, Homestead, North Miami, South Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, Hialeah, Kendall, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. The Friedland Law Group handles all types of personal injury cases, including wrongful death, defective products, medical malpractice, slip and falls and construction site injuries.