New York is a city widely known for the beauty and grandeur of its skyline. However, behind the magnificent display lies a threat many New Yorkers are unaware of: ceiling collapses.
When the ceiling collapses in an apartment, workspace, restaurant, or other indoor location, serious injury is an unfortunate common result.
In our evaluation of ceiling collapse lawsuits, we find that several warning signs are present before the major collapse.
If you’ve suffered due to a ceiling collapse injury, you should be able to hold the liable party responsible and receive fair compensation. Depending on the facts in your case, seeking the services of a ceiling collapse lawyer in New York may be in order.
Here are some things you should know about the laws pertaining to ceiling collapses and the steps that you can take to recover from your injuries.
Causes of Ceiling Collapses
There are a variety of factors that can cause a ceiling to collapse. Some of the most common causes of ceiling collapses are:
- Water damage
- Fire damage
- Wind damage
- Structural imperfections
- Collisions with machinery (common in industrial settings)
- Failure to address reasonable safety concerns
- Insufficient repairs or exterior cracks
- Failure to address infestations (ex: termites)
Before a ceiling collapses, there are usually warning signs which should be addressed as soon as possible. If you or a loved one notices any of the below issues in your residence, you should immediately contact your landlord or construction manager and keep a record of all attempts to inform the parties.
The following are signs which typically predicate ceiling collapses:
- Unusual cracking sounds
- Leaks coming from the ceiling
- Sagging plasterboard
- Blisters across the ceiling
- Visible damp patches or mold growth
When you inform your landlord or the party responsible for maintaining safety conditions in your building of any cause for concern, it is their responsibility to take care of these issues in a timely manner.
Too often, we find that landlords or property owners fail to act, effectively causing serious injury to their tenants.
Liability in Ceiling Collapse Incidents
One or many parties may be held liable in the event of a ceiling collapse. This liability begins with the building owner and management company charged with maintaining safe conditions within the building.
Ceiling collapse incidents fall under the larger heading of premises liability. A successful premises liability claim requires proof that the responsible party knew about the dangerous ceiling conditions and failed to act in a reasonable amount of time.
Landlords and property owners are obligated to maintain safe conditions inside buildings and keep the premises code-compliant. Article 301 of the New York City Construction Codes (1) states that “all buildings and parts thereof and all other structures shall be maintained in a safe condition.” Under this article, the property management is responsible at all times for maintenance of the building.
Unfortunately, not all property owners or landlords provide reasonable care for their tenants and fail to conduct maintenance, even after multiple requests.
In other cases, property owners or landlords may hire repairment to fix a ceiling issue, but the work is done negligently and ultimately leads to a ceiling collapse. In a situation like this, the contractor or repairman could be liable for damages caused by a collapsed ceiling. Similarly, construction companies may also be held liable if it can be proven that the ceilings were poorly built, defective materials were used, or minimum requirements were not met.
What Can I Do if I Think My Ceiling Might Collapse?
If you notice that your ceiling has any of the warning signs mentioned above or appears to be otherwise unsafe — don’t hesitate to notify building management or your landlord. These parties are responsible for maintaining your residence in a safe condition and must act in a timely manner after your notice.
In New York, “Notice” may be required to prove liability in a ceiling collapse. According to Cornell Law School (2), there are two types of notice: actual and constructive.
- Actual notice refers to the type of notice that is given directly to a party informing them of a case that could affect their interests.
- This is when a landlord or the party otherwise responsible for maintenance is informed of a problem with the ceiling but fails to address it.
- An example of actual notice may be when a tenant complains several times about a leak in their ceiling, but the landlord fails to fix it.
- Constructive notice is an acknowledgement that the property owner should have known about a problem, even if they haven’t been made explicitly aware of the problem.
- This is when the landlord should be aware of the issue with the ceiling but never acted to fix it.
- An example of constructive notice is if the unit upstairs had a serious flood. If the landlord took steps to address the flood but failed to provide relief to the unit below, they would be considered to have received constructive notice.
If you have reason to believe that your ceiling may be at risk of collapsing, you should inform your property manager immediately. Be sure to also keep record of your message notifying the responsible party of the issue, as it may be necessary to prove liability in an eventual case.
Injuries Caused by a Ceiling Collapse
Injuries caused by a ceiling collapse vary but have the potential to be very serious. These injuries might themselves be severe but can also impact all areas of a victim’s life, such as their mental and emotional health, as well as ability to do their job or partake in activities.
Below are some of the most common injuries associated with ceiling collapse cases:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Bone fractures
- Degenerative back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Psychological distress
Injuries caused by ceiling collapses can be economical or non-economical. Consider the loss of income, medical expenses, childcare expenses, and many others that can result from serious injury.
Engaging experienced injury attorneys who deeply care about your case is a critical step to ensuring fair recovery for your injuries. Contact Leav & Steinberg at 917-983-7818 or by visiting this link if you or a loved one have been injured due to a ceiling collapse.
Leav & Steinberg Has Experience With Ceiling Collapse Lawsuits
Recently, we helped a client who was severely injured while taking a shower recover after falling victim to a residential building ceiling collapse. For months prior to the incident, our client and his wife complained to building management about a leak in the ceiling above their bathtub. While taking a shower in March of 2018, a concrete slab and debris struck our client in the head and back, causing him to hit his back, thigh, and hip against the faucet.
Our client was rendered unconscious, his wife immediately called 911, and he was transported to the hospital to be treated.
This incident caused our client to sustain serious injury to his spine, hip, arms, and legs, which would cause years of discomfort and doctors’ visits. Leav & Steinberg had been retained by the client to fight for fair and adequate compensation.
Recently, the attorneys at Leav & Steinberg were able to recover $415,000 for the client in question. This is one of several cases we have settled for clients involved in premises liability cases. You can see more of our results here.
What to Do After a Ceiling Collapse
If you’ve sustained injuries due to a ceiling collapse, immediately call 911 and seek medical attention. Shock may cause you to feel fine, but it is crucial that you get evaluated by a medical professional to ensure adequate treatment.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a ceiling collapse, you should do the following to protect your rights:
- Communicate with your landlord or property manager about the accident.
- Gather as much information as possible about the incident. If it is safe, take pictures from different angles and keep records of time.
- Be sure to document the damage to your personal belongings and property.
- File a report with all documentation and pictures to your landlord or property manager. This information will also be helpful for your insurance claim or should you wish to file a lawsuit.
Contact a New York Ceiling Collapse Lawyer
If you’ve been injured due to a ceiling collapse, the resulting damages and injury may be extremely expensive. You shouldn’t be required to pay all of the expenses out of pocket, and you should contact an experienced New York injury attorney who can help you recover.
The attorneys at Leav & Steinberg are well-versed in premises liability law and have recovered millions of dollars for our clients that have suffered injury due to the negligence by property managers.
After sustaining an injury resulting from a ceiling collapse, you should have access to injury attorneys that care about your case and will fight to ensure adequate compensation.
Contact us for a free consultation if you would like to evaluate your options.