Millions of California residents use elevators every day without incident. However, the convenient vertical transport devices can malfunction. Most of the time, these malfunctions are minor, but they can sometimes be deadly.

On Aug. 22, a New York man was crushed to death when an elevator in his luxury 23-story apartment building suddenly plunged a half-floor as he was stepping out of it. The malfunction caused his neck and torso to get pinned between the building’s first floor and the roof of the elevator. Emergency medical service personnel responded to the scene, but he could not be saved. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner said he died of blunt force trauma injuries and ruled the death accidental.

The New York Department of Buildings announced that it is investigating the incident, which took place on Third Avenue on Manhattan’s East Side. The agency said it is determined to uncover the cause of the accident and take steps to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. While the victim’s father and employer expressed shock and sadness at the man’s passing, the building’s property manager has not yet commented on the accident.

When someone is injured or killed as the result of dangerous property conditions, the owner of the property can be held accountable in civil court. With the aid of a personal injury attorney, injured victims may file a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages. If the victim is killed, his or her family might file a wrongful death suit seeking compensation for funeral expenses, loss of income and more.