Overhead Door Injuries – Commercial, Residential, Industrial


Injuries sustained from overhead door malfunctions include amputations, bodily force trauma, and death. Knowing who is responsible for maintenance and inspections of these doorways is essential. Tenant and landlord agreements or contracted maintenance and management companies need to communicate obligations to occupants of a building where the overhead door systems are used to assure the safety of all door users. Disabling injuries such as severed fingers and limbs, bodily trauma, and death often lead to involved lawsuits due to the combination of jobsite and employer, landlord and tenant contractual agreements, and property owner liability insurance coverage.

In many jobsite related injury cases, the worker that is injured on the job is often covered by workmen’s compensation insurance. In some cases there is no workmen’s compensation coverage as the injury occurs to a self-insured person or a family member. In the more complex and often convoluted cases, indemnification clauses from lease obligations moves the liability of the injury ultimately upon the tenant in possession of the accident site, or the employer rather than the property owner.

It has been observed that the failure of the overhead door system mechanism is in some way related to the lack of professional maintenance and routine periodic inspections. In various cases, there are typically arguments as to which involved party had the duty to inspect the door systems. overhead door repair Ultimately, the deferred door conditions led to the injury.

There are a variety of overhead doors that are commonly installed throughout the country. Overhead doors can be broken down into several categories.

RESIDENTIAL overhead doorways are commonly used in settings such as single family homes, condominiums, and apartment buildings. The design of these doors is generally one of two styles. In older residential structures there are still many single panel overhead pivoting garage doors. In newer residential construction, it is more typical to encounter a sectional or multi-panel door system.

In COMMERCIAL buildings the overhead door systems can be composed of a wide variety of components and materials. Commercial overhead door systems vary tremendously in weight and size and are typically built more robustly than most residential overhead doorways. They are often remotely controlled by sophisticated motorized operators.

Another frequent source of injuries comes from overhead sectional doors that are installed into COMMERCIAL TRUCK bodies.

There are numerous personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits and claims from malfunctioning overhead doors. In several cases, they have fallen apart and had the components rain down on a person. Other overhead doors have dropped in “free fall”, and crushed or severed various body parts. Real time surveillance videos have shown where cars have driven into security gates which resulted in the doors disengaging from their track system and collapse onto innocent bystanders. In some cases, multiple doors have fallen unexpectedly from overhead perches. People have been seriously injured and even died as a result of overhead door malfunctions. It is common to see amputation injuries derived from overhead doors.


When an absentee landlord is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of a rental property, tenants are sometimes exposed to long term deferred door systems. In a few recent cases tenants have suffered head and neck trauma after being struck with a malfunctioning door system. In other cases body parts have been severed and amputated when door safety devices were improperly positioned, not functioning correctly, or simply removed after the original installation. Small children have been maimed from falling door and spring components and cars parked inside garages have been damaged when old style door springs have flown from their hinge points.

While commercial and residential overhead door systems can be quite different, there are often certain similarities in their construction that calls for regular and periodic maintenance inspections. In the case of any door system that has a motorized opener, that system should be inspected at least once a month. It is important to routinely verify that the door system is properly functioning as intended by the manufacturer. If safety sensors or pressure activated switches are installed they must also be inspected for function. Not all door systems require or have safety sensor beams or impact switches. In many warehouse or commercial installations an automatic instant reverse mechanism is the safety device. This type of door controller relies upon resistance input to stop and reverse the door operation. It is important to assure that the speed of travel of that type of door system is per manufacturer’s specifications.


In residential and commercial applications, when electric eye beams are employed, they need to be frequently checked for proper alignment, focus, and cleanliness. Auto reverse functions, when present, need to be evaluated to prevent potential damage or injury due to crushing forces. If a rolling track system is part of the overhead doorway all rollers, guides, and tracks need to be clean, lubricated and free of debris that would hinder door performance which could lead to catastrophic binding. In a commercial door system, it is important to make sure that all guides, safety systems, and motor clutches operate correctly. In commercial systems where flashing lights or audible alarms are in place, they need to be checked for proper function. Any obstructions that may be adjacent to the doorway must be removed to assure proper and safe usage of the overhead door system. The more complex a door system, the more frequently the system should be evaluated. In some commercial installations, a daily inspection should be made, while in single occupancy homes, once a month inspections are usually sufficient. In every door installation, it is essential that the entity in control of the doorway be aware of the condition of that doorway. If a change is noticed in the daily operation of the doorway, professional and competent service providers should be contacted immediately. The doorway should be thought of as unsafe to use until services are provided by a competent professional notifying you that the door is safe.

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