After the deaths of two pedestrians who were struck by crumbling facades that came loose off buildings, New York City building officials are considering the use of drones to assist with their safety inspections. According to a report in The Real Deal, the City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings held a hearing on a bill that would require the Department of Buildings to study the feasibility of using unmanned aircraft to examine exterior walls.
Exploring the Use of Technology
Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said the agency supports the bill and is open to the idea of using drone technology to enhance building safety. She also emphasized that she does not want to put façade inspectors out of a job. She said the department is aware of the value of having visual, hands-on inspectors “by humans who can feel and touch the material.”
The department’s study would explore whether drones could potentially help cut down the use of scaffolding and sidewalk sheds throughout the city. There are now more than 9,000 active sheds in the city, which collectively span the distance between Central Park and the Canadian border, measuring nearly 2 million linear feet.
Facade Fatalities and Enforcement Efforts
In the last two months alone, there were two deaths of pedestrians after they were hit by facades that came loose from buildings or construction sites. Last month a well-known architect was struck by a piece of terracotta that fell off a building at 729 Seventh Avenue. That building owner had been issued a violation related to the facade earlier by the city. However, the owners did not make the necessary repairs or install a sidewalk shed or netting to protect pedestrians. Earlier this month, another woman was killed by a piece of building material that fell from the Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing, Queens.
Following these two tragic deaths, the Department of Buildings has increased facade safety enforcement and introduced rule changes that stepped up requirements for exterior wall inspectors as well as increased penalties. The department also inspected 1,331 facades that had been flagged for safety problems.
Officials said that of the 220 properties that had been asked to install protections for facade issues, only 68 owners complied. The city is sending out contractors at the building owners’ expense to the 152 remaining properties to remedy the unsafe conditions, officials said. In addition, the city is pursuing criminal cases against owners who have had sidewalk sheds in place for more than 10 years.
Understanding Your Rights
These fatal incidents highlight the daily dangers that pedestrians face due to building owners’ and other parties’ negligence (carelessness) when it comes to maintaining their buildings and erecting protective structures such as sidewalk sheds or nettings. When a piece of debris drops from several feet above and strikes someone walking or even standing below, it can cause significant injuries and, as in these recent two incidents, even fatalities.
If you have been injured as the result of improperly maintained or poorly-protected facades, please understand that you have legal rights, and that landlords and other parties have responsibilities. Construction companies, managing agents, building owners, some contractors and sub-contractors may have a responsibility to ensure that scaffolds and other structures at a construction site are properly secured so they don’t pose a danger to workers, visitors or pedestrians at or near the worksite.
In such cases, injured bystanders or passersby can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injury, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families of deceased victims may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as lost future income, funeral costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc. Liable parties may include construction companies, general contractors, sub-contractors, property and building owners/managers, manufacturers of defective products, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Whether you are a construction worker who has suffered injuries at a construction site or a bystander or pedestrian who has been injured by falling debris, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our law firm recovered $3,375,576 for a construction worker (an undocumented immigrant) who was injured on the job – one of the highest construction case settlements in New York that year. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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