Criminal Charges Filed in Fatal Manhattan Facade Collapse

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) said it has filed Administrative Code Charges in criminal court against the owner of the building, which was the site of a 2019 facade collapse that left a 60-year-old woman dead. According to an NBC New York news report, the charges allege that the building owner failed to properly maintain the building, which led to the death of the woman, a well-known architect in the city.

Failure to Maintain Building

The fatal incident occurred on Dec. 17, 2019 when a piece of falling decorative terra cotta facade struck the victim in the head as she was walking past the building. DOB officials said in a statement that even though the defendants (the building owners) “had been made aware of the deteriorating facade conditions that posed an immediate danger to the public, they failed to make the necessary repairs and failed to install a sidewalk shed in front of the building to protect pedestrians from the unsafe facade conditions.”

Department officials said the building owners had been ordered to install a sidewalk shed and begin repairs to the facade eight months prior to the accident, but had allegedly done neither. In a previous statement, a company spokesperson had told NBC New York that they had planned to repair that facade and that a contract had been awarded for the work. They had also said that they were awaiting city approval to install the sidewalk shed. The Department of Buildings has not said yet what penalties the building owners will face should they be found guilty of the criminal charges.

Building Owner’s Responsibility

Facade collapses are sadly common in New York City and they happen due to a number of reasons. Many of these incidents stem from the building owner’s or property manager’s and/or other responsible party’s failure to properly maintain the structure. As buildings age, facades get weaker. It is the duty of building owners and/or managers and other responsible parties to ensure that the conditions of buildings and facades are monitored frequently and maintained as required by the city codes.

When portions of a facade become unstable, landlords (building owners) and other responsible parties should work to fix them right away and construct sidewalk sheds, nets, or scaffolding to prevent injuries to passersby. Such accidents have the potential to cause major, if not catastrophic or even fatal injuries.

Liability Issues

General construction companies, managing agents, building owners, some contractors and sub-contractors have a responsibility to ensure that facades, 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. If you have been injured as the result of poorly maintained or poorly secured facades, please understand that you have legal rights.

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 or building owners/managers, manufacturers of defective products, etc.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a facade or building collapse, 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.

For 50 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims get fair compensation for their losses. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van, and $2,500,000 for a man who fell through an improperly secured hole. 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/or medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously 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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