Over the past 15 years, I have been involved in over 100 residential garage door injury cases and I am generally retained as the door specialist almost equally by plaintiff and defense. I provide an unbiased neutral assessment of every claim. Get to know more at Garage Door Repairs Kent and Novoferm Garage Doors.
The following article is derived from various common circumstances that have led to a claim. Reviewing one of the most latest resolved situations provides prompted me to write this article in an attempt to provide some substantial details to others contemplating litigation. It is almost impossible to include every variation, nuance, or combination of events pertaining to garage door accidents in this short article. The situations discussed in this article are based upon multiple previous claims that are similar in nature. I am repeatedly contacted by attorneys describing the same kind of injuries involving garage doors. It is not unusual for my office to have multiple active promises with very similar situations. If you are an attorney considering taking a potential garage door injury case, it is probable that I have previous experience with an identical or identical circumstance to your potential claim.
Garage Door injuries pertaining to rental properties:
Amputations of toes and fingers are probably the most common injury attributed to residential garage doors. It has been my experience as the retained door specialist that the majority of situations that involve these types of door related amputations take place in rental properties.
Who is responsible? Why are so many claims from rental properties?
The landlord has failed to inspect the overall condition of the rental property prior to or during tenancy.
The landlord does not know, or care about the condition of the garage door. Because the home was purchased to end up being torn down for upcoming development, current situations have created growth delays so the property had been rented to a short term tenant.
The property was inherited from elderly relatives that formerly lived there. The new owners are not professional landlords, and never believed that any defects of the house existed or were essential.
The hinged door operator needed replacing, but the landlord did not want to spend the money or effort as the tenant was not using the garage to park cars, only store household goods.
The door does not have current compliant safety gadgets installed or appropriate hardware such as an exterior door handle to move the door up or down.
Improperly maintained or deferred maintenance because of cost.
Section 8 or low rent tenancy.
Tenants have inappropriately used the garage door or created damage to the hinged door and opener.
Parental supervision of tenant children is definitely lacking.
Tenant did not pay the electric costs and the automatic door opener cannot function.
The owner has hired a management company that is responsible for oversight and upkeep, and does not want to provide the appropriate maintenance due to cost.
A management company provides inappropriate fixes by unskilled and untrained workers.
Every garage door must be properly balanced to operate safely
Many amputations of fingers and toes have occurred due to an improperly balanced garage door. These cases are often the total consequence of limited interaction with a seldom used sectional or individual panel door. I have been retained on several cases where a tenant only used the door a couple of times prior to sustaining an injury, but had happen to be living in the home for a few years.
In additional claims, tenants attempting to exit the door as a pedestrian have had the door violently slam down on top of their head and neck or it landed on their foot, breaking bones or trapping a couple of toes, smashing them beyond recognition. Fingers have been crushed or take off, and hands have also become crushed between the meeting sections of a sectional garage door as the door rapidly descends because of improperly tensioned, broken or disconnected springs.
Tenants, attempting to fix a garage door on their own have also suffered severe accidents to all parts of the body. One tenant really became entangled in the trolley release cord, and fell off of the ladder she had been using, hanging herself in the process. Tenants usually blame the landlord because of their injury because the owner failed to make timely repairs. Sometimes, that blame is reputable, as multiple requests to have something fixed have long gone unanswered. Other times, the tenant was performing without permitting the landlord a reasonable amount of time to have the door repaired. Regardless, most door fixes should be made by qualified employees or educated professional garage door service providers.
In many amputation claims, disconnected or malfunctioning automatic garage door openers have meant that users have had to manually open or close the doors. Many of the people that have become injured were unaware that the door was improperly balanced prior to their incident because they generally relied upon the automatic controller to open and close the door for them. In some cases, no handle on the exterior of the hinged door was installed. When the door had been manually pushed or pulled, the tenant was unable to control the movement of the hinged door, and inadvertently attained between pinch points (mating locations of individual sectional panels) of the relocating door.
In almost every injury case, the landlord has been included in the blame for the incident. In some of those situations it was identified that the tenants got abused and misused the equipment creating their own unsafe condition. Some of the accidents were directly attributed to deferred observations and no professional maintenance on the part of the ownership, while others were due to improper installation issues and bad service providers. In most of these claims, the dangerous problem of the garage doorway is due to deferred maintenance, missing hardware, improper spring changes, failed springs or cables, or defective automatic door operators.
Basic components of a garage door system:
There are many different types of garage doors found in residential properties. In antique homes, hinged carriage doors are often found. Sliding barn type doors were once common. As hardware was developed, pivot hinges and stretch springs allowed individual panel doors to be used. Single panel overhead doors, once built on-site, have all but been replaced by factory supplied sectional doors. Sectional doors are the most common type currently installed in the United States probably. Sectional doors have a variety of benefits that individual panel overhead doors lack. Sectional doors provide a variety of options in design, flexibility of installation, insulation, choice of materials, and style that were not common during the past.
Sectional doors generally employ one of two types of counterbalance systems to motivate them. In certain geographic areas where cold temperatures are common, tensioned stretch springs are generally installed. They help the operator (manually or mechanically) to allow the sectional door to open and close without any stress to the system. A more modern and robust common system includes torsion springs attached to a rotating rod with wire cables and pulleys.
In most garage doors spring tension is responsible for smooth operation of the hinged door. The springs stretch and retract or coil and uncoil as different positions of the hinged door are reached. In general, doors have the most stress on the springs when the hinged door is fully closed. A fully opened door has little or no tension on the charged power assist springs. A properly balanced and tensioned sectional residential garage door should remain stationary approximately mid-point in its path of travel. It may drift slightly up or down, nonetheless it should remain fairly neutrally buoyant.