In the last 15 years, I have been involved in more than 100 residential garage door damage cases and I am generally maintained 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 the claim. Reviewing some of the most recent resolved cases has prompted me to publish this article in an attempt to provide some significant information to others contemplating litigation. It is almost impossible to include every alternative, nuance, or combination of events related to garage door injuries in this short article. The cases discussed in this article are based upon multiple previous states that are similar in nature. We are 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 doorway injury case, it is probable that I have previous experience with a similar or even identical situation to your potential claim.
Garage Door injuries pertaining to rental properties:
Amputations of toes plus fingers are probably the most common injury attributed to residential garage doors. It has been our experience as the retained door specialist that the majority of cases that involve these kinds of door related amputations occur within rental properties.
Who is responsible? What makes so many claims from rental properties?
The landlord has failed to inspect the entire condition of the rental property just before or during tenancy.
The landlord does not know, or care about the health of the garage door. Because the property was purchased to be torn down for future development, current conditions have created development delays so the property was rented to a temporary tenant.
The property was inherited through elderly relatives that formerly resided there. The new owners are not expert landlords, and never thought that any flaws of the property existed or were important.
The door operator needed replacing, but the landlord did not want to invest the money or effort as the tenant was not using the garage to store cars, only store household products.
The door does not have current compliant protection devices installed or appropriate hardware such as an exterior door handle to move the door up or straight down.
Improperly maintained or deferred upkeep because of cost.
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Section 8 or even low rent tenancy.
Tenants have got inappropriately used the garage door or created damage to the door and opener.
Parental supervision of tenant kids is lacking.
Tenant did not pay out the electric bill and the automated door opener cannot function.
The master has hired a management organization that is responsible for oversight and servicing, and does not want to provide the appropriate maintenance due to cost.
A management corporation provides inappropriate repairs by not skilled and untrained workers.
Every garage door must be properly balanced to work safely
Many amputations of fingertips 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 already been retained on many cases in which a tenant only used the door once or twice prior to sustaining an injury, but have been living in the property for a few years.
In other claims, tenants attempting to exit the door being a pedestrian have had the door violently throw down on top of their head and neck or it landed on their feet, breaking bones or trapping a couple of feet, smashing them beyond recognition. Fingertips have been crushed or cut off, plus hands have also become crushed between the meeting sections of a sectional garage area door as the door rapidly descends because of improperly tensioned, broken or even disconnected springs.
Tenants, attempting to repair a garage door on their own also have suffered severe injuries to all parts of the body. One tenant actually became interlaced in the trolley release cord, and fell off of the ladder she was using, hanging herself in the process. Renters often blame the landlord for his or her injury because the owner failed to make timely repairs. Sometimes, that blame is legitimate, as multiple demands 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 must be made by qualified personnel or educated professional garage door service providers.
In several 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 had been unaware that the door was improperly balanced prior to their incident simply because they generally relied upon the automated controller to open and close the door for them. In some cases, no handle on the outside of the door was installed. When the door was manually pushed or pulled, the tenant was unable to control the movement of the doorway, and inadvertently reached between crunch points (mating locations of personal sectional panels) of the moving door.
In almost every injury case, the particular landlord has been included in the blame for the incident. In some of those cases it was determined that the tenants had abused and misused the equipment creating their very own unsafe condition. Some of the injuries were directly attributed to deferred observations with no professional maintenance on the part of the possession, while others were due to improper set up issues and bad service providers. In most of these claims, the dangerous problem of the garage door is due to deferred maintenance, missing hardware, improper spring adjustments, failed springs or cables, or defective automatic door providers.
Basic components of a garage door system:
There are many different types of garage doors found in residential properties. In classic homes, hinged carriage doors are often found. Sliding barn type doors were once common. As equipment was developed, pivot hinges and stretch springs allowed single panel doorways to be used. Single panel overhead doorways, once built on-site, have all but been replaced by factory provided sectional doors. Sectional doors are most likely the most common type currently installed in the United States. Sectional doors have a variety of benefits that single panel overhead doors lack. Sectional doors offer a selection of options in design, flexibility of installation, insulation, choice of materials, plus style that were not common in the past.
Sectional doors generally employ 1 of 2 types of counterbalance systems to encourage them. In certain geographic areas where cool temperatures are common, tensioned stretch suspension springs are frequently installed. They assist the particular operator (manually or mechanically) to permit 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 area doors spring tension is responsible for smooth operation of the door. The suspension systems stretch and retract or coils and uncoil as different roles of the door are reached. In general, doors have the most tension around the springs when the door is fully closed. A fully opened door has little or no tension on the power aid springs. A properly tensioned and well balanced sectional residential garage door should remain stationary approximately mid-point in the path of travel. It may wander slightly up or down, however it should remain relatively neutrally buoyant.
In order for a manual garage doorway to become an automatic door many of the exact same basic spring components must be correctly installed and functioning. This writer has other articles of how sectional doors work, overhead door as well as other door related injuries.
If a home garage door is properly well balanced, it is easy to attach an automatic door owner to assume the task of opening and closing the door. No properly adjusted and functioning automatic garage door controller should be able to overcome the particular forces of a defectively operating out of balance door.
Basic safety devices available for home garage doors:
Most new garage door operators include several security devices to protect all users. In most basic systems currently sold you can find at least two automatic safety techniques to protect the public from being crushed by the closing door.
One basic function includes an automatic reverse of the door when in the opening or even closing cycle. If the door runs into obstructive forces, it generally will stop and move in the opposite direction associated with travel. In the closing mode, the particular downward force is often checked simply by placing a small stuffed animal in the threshold floor of the garage. The motor controller has a field adjustable force control that is set to react when a soft obstruction, such as a teddy bear is slightly compressed. This copies the potential obstruction that may be caused by a small child in the path of the down door travel.
The second safety device, commonly in usage are photograph electric beams. These beams when properly located and integrated throughout the full width of the garage tolerance will not allow the door to close up if the beam is broken by something in the threshold path associated with travel of the door.
From the end user’s perspective, a basic residential automatic garage door should operate without concern due to all of the available protection products. From a professional installer’s viewpoint, there are numerous requirements that need to be attended to for an automatic operator to function safely.
The difference in obligation between the 2 is expressed in the installation manual vs the owner’s manual. Usually, there are several systems that need to be calibrated by the installer that the homeowner will never have any reason to interact with. That is also one of the reasons why an expert service provider should inspect and maintain an automatic operator on a routine annual foundation. Initially, the door operator installer models system parameters that assure safe operation of the automatic garage door operator. These systems need to be checked and verified for continued secure operation of the door operator with a professional trained service provider.
Maintenance plus homeowner obligations differ from professional service providers
How the doors are professionally installed, maintained and evaluated is important. Nevertheless , homeowners and tenants living in a single family home or condo should take it upon themselves to determine whether or not the doorway they use daily is working correctly. Generally, no maintenance is ever done by most homeowners to the average home garage door, till some component fails requiring expert repairs. Tenants should quickly get in touch with the landlord if problems with the garage door occurs, unless their particular lease agreement requires the tenant to maintain the property.