Malfunctioning gates and fences can cause catastrophic and traumatic bodily injury and death.
There are as many ways to become injured by a gate as there are types of gates. Whether the gate was part of a residential or commercial property, hotel, hospital, themed attraction, or penal institution sally port, malfunctioning gates have been the reason for all types of personal injury and wrongful death claims.
Personal injury and wrongful death cases are sometimes caused by defectively operating products associated with a multitude of problems. Some are caused by damage created by outside forces such as vehicular impacts or adverse weather conditions. Others are due to improperly maintained sliding or swinging car barriers or overhead apartment complex garage portals. Many are directly related to unprofessional service providers failing to understand required equipment problems that were later the cause of a claim. Other claims have proven to be the fault of the person injured. Each claim has been completely different, Gated yet share many of the same types of related common component issues.
The most important part of investigation into the injury is to be able to thoroughly evaluate the gate, related parts, and service provider involvement. Sometimes the gate and operators have been removed, destroyed, or lost. In those cases, photographs and videos of the incident are all that is left to be analyzed. In some claims, as a result of years of neglect, gates have become disconnected from their tracks, welds have broken, or the gates have fallen apart and on to someone. In other claims,
the electric gate operators have imparted severe forces to turn an otherwise well maintained gate into a potentially fatal weapon. Deferred or improperly maintained gate operators missing critical safety devices have failed to protect users from impact injuries. Some injuries have occurred due to abuse of some kind by the party now making the claim.
Gates and their associated operators have the potential to become deadly.
In the case where a small child was crushed behind a moving gate, it was because the gate had an improperly operating closer. No safety devices were ever installed with this system, as the contractor that had provided the equipment had opted not to plug in a couple of required modules, due to his lack of understanding of what the modules did.
In another case, there was no adjacent on/off switch near the gate. In one case, a workman was trapped and ultimately crushed between a stone wall and the gate when the gate mechanism was activated from a remote location. Ironically, the worker was the son of the man that had installed the gate several years earlier. No disconnect switch was ever provided because the installer was not aware that a local disconnect switch was required.
Gate & Fence Service Providers
Having examined thousands of pages of deposition testimony related to gate injury and wrongful death claims, it is often discover that the local gate service provider is insufficiently qualified to perform the required evaluation or preventative maintenance and lacks the knowledge of the systems installed. The subject gate operator installation was merely an adjunct to his normal scope of business which is installing yard fencing materials or other landscape products.
Many gate injury cases have been brought against homeowners’ and condo associations that had service agreements with unqualified service providers. Repeatedly, testimony has shown that no formal training of any kind was ever given to the service provider. Often the reason for this lack of professionalism is due to what is commonly referred to as “watch one – do one – teach one” training. A new employee will “ride along” with a more experienced, although never properly trained employee or owner of a fence materials company. As this new employee is “taught” how to “service” the gate systems, wrong information or overall disjointed information is imparted as “how to service and maintain” these products. Eventually the new employee, often after only a couple of weeks of observation, pay4d is given his own truck and sent out to provide maintenance to products that he has only seen once or possibly helped test. Later, as need dictates, that same employee with whatever information and minimal experience he has acquired may be charged with training the next generation of gate service providers.
If an organization such as a homeowner’s condo association relies upon a “professional service provider”, and a full time ongoing maintenance contract is in place with that service provider, it is generally easy to make a direct connection between a defective condition and that service provider.
If there is no maintenance policy established with any service provider, and repairs are only made retroactively, there is less in the way of cause and effect that can be directly attributed to any service company. However, improper workmanship and wrong evaluations by a so called professional service provider may still attach that provider to an injury claim.
Gate Injury Accidents & Claims
Woman hits gate with car, then gates falls on her as she walks underneath it
A woman attempting to enter a high lift rolling gate system in a commercial high rise building struck the gate with her car. As she could not gain access to the parking area, she entered the building through an adjacent single pedestrian doorway. When the automatic lift mechanism was activated, the gate, having been damaged, fell apart and fell onto the woman. The event was recorded on video as it happened. In this case, the woman never admitted to driving her car into the closed gate and failed to inform anyone that she had done so. After the gate collapsed upon her, the security camera recording of the entrance showed that she had in fact hit the gate with significant force. The impact from her vehicle created several bent component parts in the rolling gate which created a condition that allowed the gate to become stuck and un-tensioned. The gate, became disconnected from the activation drum, over-rotated and spilled upon the woman that was standing underneath the opening. In this claim, the gate was regularly maintained by appropriate service providers, and the damage created by the impact with the car was the sole cause of this injury.
Forklift driver hits gate, delivery driver is buried by gate
A forklift struck a loading dock gate from within, and when the awaiting delivery truck driver began to enter the loading bay from the outside, the gate became dislodged and crushed him as he crossed under the damaged gate. Real time video recorded the incident. When the forklift driver hit the loading dock gate, he was unconcerned. The delivery driver attempting to access the opening was unaware that the gate had been broken by the forklift and upon raising the security gate he dislodged the now broken gate pieces and was unfortunately buried by the broken slats and fasteners.
Small child entered fenced pool area when the slat spacing was not up to current codes
A four year old child playing unattended in the backyard of an apartment complex was able to climb through a pool fence surround and fell into the common area swimming pool. The child was found struggling in the water and pulled to safety prior to drowning. The resident/parent of the child filed suit against the apartment management and ownership. A claim was made that the child should have never been left alone in the apartment yard by the management. Signs had been posted warning that there was no lifeguard on duty, and that the management made the tenants aware that they were using the pool at their own risk. The expert witness found, after examining the pool fencing system, that the spacing of the vertical and horizontal fence bars was inappropriate and did not meet any code requirements since the apartment had been built. The pool was apparently in place prior to the construction of the new apartment buildings and the gate and fence had not been changed or upgraded to meet current code compliance. The fact that the child was able to gain access to the pool by slipping his body sideways between the vertical bars was quickly recognized when the site inspection showed that an 8″ sphere would easily pass between the fencing. Building codes at the time of the apartment construction clearly stated that no more than a 4″ sphere should be allowed to pass between any fencing materials. During mediation of this claim a reasonable agreement was reached between the two parties, and the pool fence was reworked to comply with current standards of safety.