Gate Crush Accidents and Injuries
Gate crush accidents occur when a mechanical defect or human error causes the individual to be caught and injured. Heavy gates are common features in most areas, and we use them to enter a parking lot, our apartment complex, a commercial property, hospitals and other entities. We take their safety for granted, and in many cases, we should not assume that is so. For some, traumatic injuries result in long-term hospital care or death. Let’s explore how gate crush accidents occur, common injuries that result, and how a personal injury lawsuit can provide compensation for financial losses.Heavy Gates
So, what are heavy gates? You see them all over the Sacramento and surrounding Northern California area. They weigh anywhere from 50 to 150 pounds or more and are usually electric. If a person is caught by a closing gate, the weight and mechanism make it almost impossible for them to escape.
The resultant gate crush injuries such as broken ribs and other bones or compression of vital organs like the heart or lungs result in fatalities. Depending on where the gate is located, oftentimes the person cannot get free before they are found and a slow, agonizing death ensues.
This type of death is hard for the family to reconcile. Loved ones are startled that the decedent died trying to enter their apartment complex or visit a friend in the hospital. This initial reaction often leads to anger, confusion and grief.Types of Heavy Gates
Heavy gates come in all shapes and sizes. They are meant to keep intruders out and increase the safety of the inhabitants, customers and others who need safe access to the property. But, as you will see, this sometimes comes at the price of gate crush accidents for workers and for individuals who have access to the location. The majority of heavy gates are automatic/electronic with a few relying on manual opening and closing. Some heavy automatic gates and doors that fall into this category include:
- Barrier gates
- Parking gates
- Revolving doors
- Swinging doors and gates
- Sliding doors
- Automated doors and gates for pedestrians
- Dropdown doors
- Rollup doors, including garage doors
- Fire doors
All automatic doors employ sensors to operate safely. It is critical that they use safety features to protect vehicles and pedestrians. Most commercial establishments use heavy doors or gates and are expected to utilize the safety features.
Older buildings with heavy gates might lack the safety features expected on newer ones. However, the doors and safety mechanisms must be inspected and maintained on a routine basis. Failure to do this, resulting in a gate crush accident, can be seen as premises liability on the part of the owner or lessee.Automatic Gate Crush Injuries
Due to the sheer weight and size of heavy electronic gates, crush injuries are common. Being caught in a heavy moving gate can result in serious injury and death for people ranging from small children or adult males and females to individuals working on the gate or automatic door.
Crush injuries are especially dangerous since they result in the breakdown of muscle cell walls, compromised blood vessels and lack of blood supply or ischemia. When a heavy object crushes a body part, such as the arms or legs, a toxic substance is released and localized. However, if the object is removed, this toxin may be released into the circulation and cause kidney failure and death. It is important that rescuers are trained in crush injuries and how to deal with them at the accident site.
The following are the most common gate crush accident injuries:
- Respiratory distress: This can be due to pressure on the chest with the concomitant crushing injury to the ribs and lungs. It can end in hypoxia and given the lack of air, death.
- Kidney failure: This is caused by the release of crush injury toxins, causing the kidneys to shut down. Without functioning kidneys the body will no longer be able to filter the blood, ending in death.
- Disseminated intravascular collapse: This condition causes clotting of the body’s blood vessels. The survival rate is poor.
- Cardiac injuries: Abnormal rhythms of the heart, which can end in loss of life can occur. Contusions to the heart can lead to major cardiac issues.
- Shock: This is due to a lack of blood supply to the body due to gate crush accidents.
- Spinal cord injury: Injury to the spinal cord can result in partial or total paralysis.
- Traumatic brain injury: Whether this is due to lack of blood supply or damage to the head in gate crush accidents, TBIs are devastating for the individual and their family. It is critical that immediate care be given to the injured party.
- Broken bones: These range from simple fractures to bone crush injuries. Depending on the severity of the crush injury, amputation may or may not be necessary to save the person’s life.
- Facial injuries and fractures: Facial lacerations and fractures can be devastating injuries and, on some occasions, require cosmetic surgery. Most insurances refuse to cover cosmetic surgery, and this heightens the need to be compensated for your financial loss.
- Abdominal injury: When the abdominal organs are compressed, multiple system dysfunction can occur. This requires immediate medical intervention to prevent a wrongful death.
This varies according to why the accident happened but generally, the following people or entities are responsible:
- The company that manufactured the electronic gate/door and the designer
- The gate installation company
- The property owner who is responsible for the upkeep of the property, including the gate
- The person or entity that leases the property and is charged with its upkeep
- A negligent operator of the apparatus
The right to obtain financial compensation for gate crush accidents is based on whether negligence is involved. This is a critical element in a personal injury case and one without which the claim will be denied. The injured party or the family if someone died due to a gate crush injury can file for:
- All medical expenses: This includes ambulance and ER expenses, hospital costs, medications, lab tests, radiologic tests including X-rays, CT scans and MRIs. Surgery costs are covered as are physicians and surgeons and other hospital expenses. If needed, rehabilitation is also covered in a gate crush lawsuit. Long-term nursing care at home or in a medical facility is part of the claim against the negligent party/parties.
- Physical home modifications: In the event the injured party is disabled, modification to the home is covered.
- Lost wages: This covers the current wages the person will lose due to the accident and wages in the future if they are unable to work or must accept a lower-paying position. Bonuses, commissions and other amenities and perks related to the job are also covered.
- Pain and suffering: Aside from continuing physical pain, the injured party often experiences emotional and psychological turmoil from gate crush. This can range from anxiety to loss of enjoyment of life to fear of enduring a similar accident in the future. PTSD is a major problem for those who experienced a crush injury and is accompanied by fear and apprehension.
- Punitive damages: Such damages are meant to punish the at-fault party, not compensate the injured person. The plaintiff may ask for punitive damages when a defendant's egregious behavior is involved, but it is up to the jury to determine the amount. The amount of punitive damages generally exceeds that of compensatory ones.
- Loss of consortium: A spouse can file for loss of consortium, which is the intimacy and closeness they shared with the plaintiff prior to the accident.
If a person died due to the injuries they suffered in this type of accident, their family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This compensates the family for the monetary losses they sustained due to the person’s demise. The following family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Spouse or putative spouse
- Natural children or stepchildren previously supported at least 50 percent by the decedent
- Parents supported by the deceased
- Siblings supported by the deceased
The family members are able to recover the following financial losses:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost income the decedent made at the time of their death and would have made into the future until retirement
- The cost of hiring someone to do household jobs usually performed by the decedent
- Children can obtain the monetary value of lost guidance by the decedent and inheritance
- Spouses can collect for loss of consortium due to the individual’s death
The case is dictated by the reason the accident happened. For instance:
- Product liability: If the manufacturer or designer provided a defective gate, then a product liability case can be filed. Likewise, if the maker of individual parts for the gate/door were defective, a product liability case can be filed against the parts company. In addition, if warnings are neglected and someone is injured or killed because of it, a lawsuit of this type can be filed.
- Premises liability case: This occurs when the property owner or the person/entity who leases the property fails to maintain it according to best practices.
- Intentional personal injury lawsuit: In some instances, a mistake is intentionally made and someone is injured or killed. Despite this possibly being a criminal case, an injury lawyer can still file a civil claim against the person or persons.
- Personal injury lawsuit: If the installation of the gate/door was faulty, then the company in charge can be considered liable for the financial losses involved in the accident.
In order to investigate a gate crush injury, it is necessary to examine the apparatus and any safety devices or signage that is involved. Therefore, our investigators must have access to the gate and the area where it is located. That is why it is important to preserve the site.
Some things we look for are:
- The condition of the gate at the time of the accident
- The presence of safety devices and appropriate warning signage
- Whether the gate operator is qualified to perform their job
- Whether maintenance personnel are qualified to ensure that the gate is operating as it should and to replace worn parts appropriately
- The presence of a functioning on/off switch
- Whether a qualified service provider is retained by the owner/lessee of the building
- Whether steps for evaluating and repairing a gate that was hit by a vehicle are in place
- Pivot hinges on the gate are checked routinely to assure that they are firmly in place and capable of preventing the gate from dislodging and falling on a vehicle or person
This case involved an employee who exited the building campus where he worked and needed to reenter after the automatic gate closed. Because no gate operator was present, he proceeded to press a button that opened the gate manually. A sign warning that the gate was intended for the passage of motor vehicles and not pedestrians was not easily seen when approaching the area where the button was located.
As a result, when the employee pushed the button, the gate trapped his arm and prevented him from removing the appendage. As the gate proceeded to close, another arm of the apparatus trapped the man between it and the support structure. The man suffocated and died due to crush injuries.
Upon examination, it was found that the button was not placed correctly. It should have been within a six-foot buffer making it impossible to reach through the gate and press it. In addition, a stop button was missing that would have halted the gate’s progression. The owner of the property settled for $4.6 million rather than bring the case to court.Sacramento Gate Crush Accident Lawyer
I'm Ed Smith, a Sacramento Gate Crush Injury Lawyer. If you or a loved one is injured by a gate crush accident, call me at (916) 921-6400 in Sacramento or (800) 404-5400 outside of the area for my free and friendly advice. You can also reach out to me online if that is more convenient for you.
My investigative staff and injury lawyers will meet with you in a free case review where you can ask questions and learn what your options are going forward. Don’t hesitate since we need to examine the gate before it is repaired or replaced.
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