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Automatic Gates Can Cause Serious Injuries and Property Damage

The use of automatic gates is a common method of controlling traffic flow, maintaining security, or creating privacy in various businesses, apartment complexes, parking garages, and some private homes. Automatic gates operated by motor controllers have resulted in property damage, serious injuries, and even deaths. Sometimes the injuries are caused by malfunctioning gates, and sometimes they are due to negligence or human error. Either way, it is important to understand who is liable for injuries and property damage in accidents involving automatic gate systems. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Examples of Human Error in Automatic Gate Accidents
  • More than one vehicle attempts to pass through a gate opening designed for single vehicle exit and entry. The gate closes on the ‘piggyback’ vehicle, causing property damage and / or injury.

  • A pedestrian tries to quickly pass through a gated vehicle entry or exit before the gate closes. The gate strikes the pedestrian, potentially causing serious injuries or death.

  • A worker responsible for operating or monitoring an automatic gate system fails to disable the motor during one of the above scenarios or a gate malfunction. In doing so, a driver or pedestrian may become injured, crushed, entangled, or killed, and / or extensive property damage may occur.
Causes of Automatic Gate Malfunctions

Accidents involving automatic gates can also be due to defective, outdated, or malfunctioning parts. A gate that appears old, with peeling paint or rusted, worn out hinges, may indicate excessive age and lack of maintenance. The following factors may contribute to a malfunctioning gate system:

  • Missing, defective, or aging safety devices
  • Lack of adherence to safety codes
  • Improper gate for the job or particular location
  • Improper installation
  • Inadequate maintenance

Gates can either slide open and closed or swing open and closed. They can open vertically, horizontally, or a combination of the two. Some gates are operated manually, while others have automatic sensors. For ease of access, the vast majority of vehicular gates use a type of automatic motor sensor that does not require human operation. However, there is typically a worker on duty to monitor the use of gate systems. In addition to providing extra security, a worker can also manually disable a malfunctioning gate, or a properly functioning gate that someone has used incorrectly. When properly installed, maintained, and monitored, these gates are extremely safe.

Ground Sensors

Ground sensors are typically placed in high usage areas, and are installed beneath the concrete in the gate’s path. The insulated wires create a magnetic inductance field that can determine when a vehicle is approaching the gate, passing over the gate’s threshold, and clearing the gate. Unfortunately, false readings caused by improper maintenance and malfunctioning sensors can result in gates that close before a vehicle has cleared the threshold. This can cause severe property damage and injury. Corrosion, chemical reactions, and even severe weather conditions can cause ground sensors to malfunction. Regular maintenance and inspection are essential.

Remote Operation

Other types of automatic gates, such as those at personal residences, require manual input to open and close. Most of these can be remotely operated from anywhere in the world with a smartphone or similar device. Although these types of gates are not responsible for nearly as many injuries due to their low volume of entry and exit, they can be especially dangerous. Lack of supervision and no commercial safety codes can create a risky situation if a gate begins to malfunction, or if an individual attempts to pass through improperly.

Altman & Altman, LLP - Personal Injury Law Firm Serving Boston and the Surrounding Area

Safety features, clearly placed warning signs, competent supervision, and regular maintenance and inspection are all essential to the safety and security of drivers and pedestrians alike. If any of these components is missing, the appropriate party may be liable for resulting injuries and property damage. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our team of skilled injury lawyers has been protecting the rights of accident victims for over 50 years. We have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

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