GATE and FENCE Accidents and Injuries
Malfunctioning gates and fences can cause extreme 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 character, hotel, hospital, themed allurement, 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 situations are sometimes caused by defectively operating products associated with a multitude of problems. Some are caused by damage produced by outside forces such as vehicular impacts or negative weather conditions. Others are due to improperly maintained sliding or swinging car barriers or overhead apartment complicate 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, however proportion many of the same types of related shared part issues.
The most important part of investigation into the injury is to be able to thoroughly estimate the gate, related parts, and service provider involvement. Sometimes the gate and operators have been removed, destroyed, or lost. In those situations, photographs and videos of the incident are all that is left to be analyzed. In some claims, as a consequence 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 harsh forces to turn an otherwise well maintained gate into a potentially fatal weapon. Deferred or improperly maintained gate operators missing basic 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 possible 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 associate of required modules, due to his without of understanding of what the modules did.
In another case, there was no nearby on/off switch near the gate. In one case, a workman was retained and ultimately crushed between a stone wall and the gate when the gate mechanism was activated from a far away 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 scenery products.
Many gate injury situations have been brought against homeowners’ and condo associations that had service agreements with complete 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 without 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 continue” these products. ultimately the new employee, often after only a associate of weeks of observation, 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 in any case 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 “specialized service provider”, and a complete time current 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 credited to any service company. However, improper workmanship and wrong evaluations by a so called specialized service provider may nevertheless 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 go into a high lift rolling gate system in a commercial high rise building hit the gate with her car. As she could not gain access to the parking area, she entered the building by an nearby 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 meaningful force. The impact from her means produced several bent part parts in the rolling gate which produced 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 produced by the impact with the car was the only cause of this injury.
Forklift driver hits gate, delivery driver is buried by gate
A forklift hit a loading dock gate from within, and when the awaiting delivery truck driver began to go into 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 complicate was able to climb by a pool fence surround and fell into the shared 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 observe 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 seemingly 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.
Overhead security gate falls on warehouse worker
A worker in a commercial warehouse had an overhead security gate fall on him when the reel detached from the gate brackets shortly after being serviced by an overhead door company. uncompletely video coverage was obtainable. Service had been performed on the overhead gate the past day. The service providers had failed to properly reattach the gate curtain to the operating drum. After the gate was opened and closed one or two times, the gate mesh separated from the overhead mechanism that was designed to function the gate. The service providers failed to test the gate after the repair was made and left the gate in an unsafe condition that produced the injury. There was enough video evidence that was observed that showed that the service providers were directly responsible for this injury.
Parking lot gate falls on pedestrian
A manual rolling parking lot gate system was hit by a truck as the truck attempted to go into the parking lot. An hour later, a pedestrian walking past the gate was hit when the gate fell over as the brackets attached to the cinder block wall had been pulled off of the block wall by the truck impact. When a truck ran into the rolling gate in this case, the force dislodged the aged hardware that was installed into voids in the cinder block wall system. The loose hardware lost its ability to connect the gate rail system and the gate was left precariously balancing on the now damaged tubular sliding system. Wind or vibrations from passing traffic produced enough force to topple the now loose gate onto the pedestrian walking down the street.
Delivery truck damaged by gate
During a product delivery the truck driver using a powered pallet jack hit a rolling gate, moved it off of the steel track encased in the concrete, and pulled the door away from the designed path of travel. The gate fell over and damaged the delivery truck. A truck driver making deliveries using a powered pallet jack was unaware that he had made contact with the parking gate fence as he was bringing the last pallet into a commercial warehouse. It was discovered that over a ton of materials were being moved by that pallet jack. Due to the fact that the pallet jack was powered, the truck driver never felt the impact with the gate as the pallet hit and pushed the gate off of the floor track. The gate bent away from the tube railing that it typically moved on and fell over onto the truck just as the pallet jack was being lifted up onto the rear tail gate lift of the truck. Fortunately for the driver, the truck was the only casualty in this claim.
Woman and infant hit by wrought iron gate
A small 4′ wide x 6′ high wrought iron pedestrian gate nearby to a condominium complicate entrance dropped off of its’ hinges. The gate had been continually sprayed with water from the irrigation system of the nearby planters. After approximately 20 years of this continued condition, the pivot hinges finally rusted away. A woman and her infant in a stroller were hit by the door as it fell from the pivots. No inspection or evaluation was ever made to the gate or pivots already though the paint was showing meaningful rust had developed. The owner of the nearby condo, in addition as the character management service, never paid any attention to the fence and rarely used it for entering the character.
Sliding gate strikes elderly woman
An elderly resident of an apartment complicate was hit by a malfunctioning sliding gate when the gate operator suddenly sped up and came into contact with the woman as she was crossing the gate threshold. The automatic sliding gate used to close off a subterranean parking area in this apartment building was never serviced or maintained in any way. As a meaningful card was used to access the parking area from the street side, the automatic timer of the gate operator was the only control to continue the open position of the gate. The timer had finished the cycle and began to close the gate. The automatic sliding gate did not have any photo sensors or any other safety devices across the threshold, and the gate closed. During the travel of the gate the motor control suddenly sped up, and as the woman was about to cross the gate track on the threshold, she was hit by the leading edge of the moving gate. Measurements of force showed that when the woman made contact with the gate it was in excess of 500 pounds of force. As she went down from this impact, she broke her shoulder and hip.
Parking garage gate crushes down onto car
A tenant of a beach side apartment complicate was leaving the subterranean parking area, his car approached the pedestrian sidewalk, and the driver stopped the car. While the car was nevertheless underneath the overhead gate, the pivot hinges that were mounted on both sides of the gate broke loose from the cinder block mounting plates. The overhead gate crashed down upon the car smashing the roof, trunk, rear window and windshield. It was determined that the salt air had corroded the hinges after many years without any lubrication or maintenance. Rust had developed that seized the bearings of the hinges. The rust had produced a condition where the door movements had twisted the keep up in a place bolts out of the wall since the hinges could no longer rotate. There was never any preventative service or maintenance to the motor controller, and the clutch mechanism that would have prevented this situation was found to have been disabled and in a failed condition. No cross threshold beams were installed, and the gate closed upon the occupied area due to the timer function of the gate operator.
Casino overhead security gate falls onto patron
A casino patron was standing nearby to a loose link security gate. Suddenly the gate broke away from the drum that coiled the gate. The complete weight of the gate and gate materials fell onto the patron, cracking his skull, imparting meaningful force to his neck and spine, and fracturing his lower leg. The casino had not had any service or maintenance performed to this security gate since it was installed 10 years prior. The gate was regularly opened and closed a associate of times a day.
Swinging gate reverses and smashes 2 cars
An automatic loop controlled swinging gate system suddenly reversed and smashed into two cars as the drivers were waiting to leave the parking lot. On a rain soaked day, a swinging automatic parking gate attempted to close while two vehicles were in the path of travel. The gate was supposed to have been observed by in ground magnetic loops to guard against this situation. It was found that the loops were defective, and had been a known condition for several months prior to the incident. The service providers felt that the readings that were observed when tested were substandard, but failed to inform the character management. Both cars were hit by the un-sensored gate system.
Construction fencing gets blown onto pedestrian
A permanent gate and construction fence were lifted off of their sustain posts due to high winds in the area. An improperly anchored long term permanent construction fence became airborne when strong winds lifted it from the in-ground posts. A pedestrian was hit with the wind whipping fence, and was catapulted over 30 feet into the air when a later gust lifted the gate and fence materials as he was attempting to cross the downed fence in his path. There were no appropriate connections made between the fence fabric and vertical posts. The gate and all of the fence posts were planted in sand only. At some point prior to the incident, privacy screen fabric was attached to this permanent fence and gate system. As the pedestrian attempted to cross over this now disconnected fence, a high gust of wind lifted him off of the ground and flung him into an nearby street lamp post. It was determined that no engineering or calculations were ever made when the decision was made to place the screen fabric without further uplift hardware being installed. The original fence provider was never made aware of the changes made to his installation.
What went wrong?
If the gates were maintained, what went wrong? Was there an outside influence that was uncontrollable or acted upon the gate that led to the injury? Was the service provider competent to make appropriate repairs or maintenance?
If the gates were not maintained, the facilities either relied upon the owner or management to perform any repairs to these products that failed. The without of inspection, maintenance and knowledge of the operators and gates are often due to a desire to decline the costs to continue the character. Some depositions have shown that owners felt that the reason that they have building insurance is to protect them from claims such as these. Failure to continue is not to be offset by an insurance policy for coverage after an injury occurs.
Many gate related injuries have occurred because the automatic gate operator is not properly maintained. There are generally multiple types of safety devices that are part of these operators. Sensory loops that assist in obstacle detection with vehicular gates are generally buried nearby to both sides of the threshold. These magnetic loops are often used to determine means closeness to the path of travel of the gate. If these loops do not work as designed, they can create a condition where no zone coverage of protection exists.
Concrete or asphalt can cause responses with the insulation of these loops and rule to direct grounding of the loop sensor. When the insulation of these loops has been compromised, water or other ground conditions can short out these sensor loops, yielding them ineffective. When a gate service provider works on a gate, it is basic to verify that all of the safety devices for that gate are functioning to their maximum possible. Threshold beams, magnetic loops, and auto reverse roles need to be checked regularly. strength outages can affect the motor controls, consequently back up batteries and charging systems all need routine maintenance verification. Control modules for various sensory and motive roles need to be checked for appropriate operations in addition. The speed and force that the gate travels is a field adjustable condition. It is basic that these speed and force controls meet or go beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations.