Over the past 15 years, I have been involved in over 100 residential garage garage door installation sonoma county injury cases and I am generally retained as the door expert almost equally by plaintiff and defense. I provide an unbiased neutral assessment of every claim.
The following article is derived from various common conditions that have led to a claim. Reviewing some of the most recent resolved cases has prompted me to write this article in an attempt to provide some substantial information to others contemplating litigation. It is almost impossible to include every variation, nuance, or combination of events pertaining to garage door injuries in this short article. The cases 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 claims with very similar circumstances. If you are an attorney considering taking a potential garage door injury case, it is probable that I have previous experience with a similar or identical situation 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 expert that the majority of cases that involve these types of door related amputations occur 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 property was purchased to be torn down for future development, current circumstances have created development delays so the property was 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 thought that any defects of the property existed or were important.
- The 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 devices 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 door and opener.
- Parental supervision of tenant children is lacking.
- Tenant did not pay the electric bill and the automatic door opener cannot function.
- The owner has hired a management company that is responsible for oversight and maintenance, and does not want to provide the appropriate maintenance due to cost.
- A management company provides inappropriate repairs by unskilled and untrained workers.
Every garage door must be properly balanced to operate safely
Many amputations of fingers and toes have occurred as a result of an improperly balanced garage door. These cases are often the result of limited interaction with a seldom used sectional or single panel door. I have been retained on many cases where a tenant only used the door a couple of times prior to sustaining an injury, but had been living in the property for a few years.
In other 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 feet, breaking bones or trapping a couple of toes, smashing them beyond recognition. Fingers have been crushed or cut 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 injuries to all parts of the body. One tenant actually became entangled in the trolley release cord, and fell off of the ladder she was using, hanging herself in the process. Tenants often blame the landlord for their injury because the owner failed to make timely repairs. Sometimes, that blame is legitimate, as multiple requests to have something fixed have gone unanswered. Other times, the tenant was acting without allowing the landlord a reasonable amount of time to have the door repaired. Regardless, most door repairs should be made by qualified personnel or trained professional garage door service providers.