After years of construction, the highly anticipated World Trade Center Oculus finally opened in late 2016. The structure, which was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is supposed to look like a bird in flight and has already faced much criticism from New Yorkers because of years of delays and the construction going over budget by almost $2 billion. Now, after a woman fell to her death on the transportation center’s escalator, many are questioning if all safety regulations have been followed.
29-Year-Old Plummets To The Ground
On Saturday, February 11th, 2016, 29-year-old Jenny Santos was passing through the Oculus with her twin sister. The two women were riding the escalator when Santos’s sister lost her winter hat.
Recent reports have indicated that the women approached a security guard to request his help with retrieving the object, but he informed them that he was unable to leave his station. So she decided to lean over the railing and attempt to grab the hat by herself. Sadly, she miscalculated and slipped over the side of the escalator.
She fell around 34 feet to the floor below and hit the marble floor below, head first. An ambulance was called and she was transported to Bellevue Hospital at around 5:30 a.m. Witnesses report that her injuries were “pretty gruesome” and one of the police officers who had been called to the scene noted that when the hospital staff first saw her injuries they initially believed she had been shot in the head. “The whole side of her head was caved in.” he stated.
Her family and the students she worked with at Bergen County Rowing Academy were devastated by the news.
American Handrails Simply Aren’t High Enough
Although the initial review of the handrails on the escalator show that the contractors and designer met with the safety standards in New York, a safety expert who reviewed the site on the Monday following Santos’s death has said that her fatal accident could have been prevented if an outrigger handrail had been installed along the side of the escalator.
Fatal Accidents Often Lead To Change
Sadly, it takes time and often fatal accidents for the Department of Buildings to make any changes to the safety codes.
As the safety expert noted, there are many changes that could be made that would not only greatly increase safety but would also be inexpensive for contractors to install. “No. 1 is to start redesigning escalators to put the European standard height handrails, which is about 8 inches higher than ours.”
Poor Safety Standards Leads To Many Accidents
This certainly isn’t the only case where changes to protective structures could have saved a life or prevents serious injuries.
Throughout the state, thousands are involved in personal injury accidents which cause:
- broken bones
- traumatic brain injury
- spinal cord damage
- fractured vertebrae
- nerve damage
- muscle and joint damage
These injuries could easily result in expensive medical treatments, time off of work, and even permanent damage that prevents the victim from enjoying the lifestyle they lived prior to the accident.
Compensation For Accidents Is Possible
For many of these victims, the option to file a personal injury complaint against the party or parties whose negligence resulted in their accident is available. This complaint can provide compensation for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and even lost wages.
If the victim dies from their injuries, their loved ones can file a similar claim called a wrongful death lawsuit. This can provide those left behind with compensation for funeral and burial expenses, lost inheritance, lost earnings, and even loss of companionship.
To learn more about how to file and how much a case might be worth contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help their client navigate the legal system.