When Hurt By An “Act Of God” Can You Recover Compensation?

When Hurt By An “Act Of God” Can You Recover Compensation?

Images from the recent New York commuter rail station escalator malfunction show chaos as numerous people hopped off the moving escalator to escape personal injury. Reports indicate that 5 people sustained injuries, although none appeared to be life-threatening. Although the accident remains under investigation, sources question whether the escalator was damaged as the result of Superstorm Sandy, and if so – can the injured parties recover compensation?

Injuries from the escalator accident include:

  • Back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Bumps and bruises

Sources report that the elevator had been ascending when it abruptly reversed course and began to head back down. A witness stated, “There was a stampede at the base of the escalator…People started to panic and yell and scream, and I saw some people jump over to the down side of the escalator, so I jumped.”

After the escalator accident, two of the three escalators at PATH station were shut down to allow for an investigation. PATH officials are looking into all of the potential factors that may have contributed to the incident, including whether Superstorm Sandy-related effects played a role.

This incident raises several interesting legal questions. For example – what are your rights if you are injured in a public venue? Is it possible to bring a negligence lawsuit to recover for your injuries? Who do you sue for an “Act of God”?

If you have been injured in any type of accident, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced Sacramento personal injury attorney who can answer your personal injury questions and provide critical guidance concerning your next steps.

While every case is different, if you have been injured on another’s property – whether it’s a train station, a grocery store or a shopping mall – the owner of the property must take steps to eliminate any unreasonable dangers or to provide adequate warning of any that exist. Where an unreasonable danger exists on another’s property and you are injured, it may be possible to recover damages in a premises liability lawsuit. By failing a claim for negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and emotional distress.

A interesting wrinkle in this situation is whether the Port Authority had any prior knowledge of the escalator defect and if in fact the escalator was damaged as the result of an “Act of God.” An Act of God includes things such as hurricanes, earthquakes, fires or in this case – Superstorm Sandy. Although many people assume that a personal injury or damage that occurs due to an act of God automatically carries no liability. This is just not the case.

In some incidences, while the damages are directly created by an act of God, the underlying cause is negligence. For example, where an item is defective or constructed or maintained negligently and a storm causes it the malfunction – while the storm is an act of God, the party responsible for the defective product may still be held liable if it can be proven that the negligence played a role in creating the harm.

As a result, determining whether any underlying negligence existed concerning the maintenance of the escalator may significantly impact the direction of the personal injury lawsuit.

For more information about “Acts of God” or premises liability, please contact a top Sacramento personal injury lawyer at Sette Law Office for an immediate consultation.

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