Fire escapes are iconic and synonymous with life in New York City. But, their safety has come into question yet again with the slip-and-fall death of 21-year-old Broadway actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste known for his performance in “Les Miserables.” According to a report in The New York Times, Baptiste was on to the fourth-floor fire escape of an apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. Police said he slipped, fell backward on the street below and died. Officials ruled his death as accidental.
In New York City, residents have found a great number of creative uses for fire escapes. In our crowded city starved for space, people have been putting them to use as closets, front porches, gardens or simply a private space to get away from the madness. But, fire escapes have been the sites of deadly falls. We’ve read many news reports about children, college students and other victims taking fatal falls from fire escapes.
Lack of Proper Design and Maintenance
Experts say these tragedies occur because the fire escapes are poorly designed and badly maintained. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) noted as early as in 1914 that the fire escapes were often hard to reach and lacked proper design and maintenance. For example, many do not have ladders or stairs from the ground to the second floor.
New York City’s 1968 building code no longer allowed fire escapes in new buildings and modern buildings came to be equipped with sprinkler systems and interior stairwells. City rules require owners of buildings where these fire escapes exist to keep them in good repair and prohibit residents from obstructing them with bikes, plants or any other objects.
New York City architects have also stopped using fire escapes not just because of aesthetics, but the potential safety issues that may arise. In July, a Jersey City apartment building was slapped with more than 40 safety violations after a fire broke out there. Residents who tried to escape via the fire escape were injured after the damaged and poorly maintained ladder collapsed.
Slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents that occur as a result of dangerous fire escapes can lead to serious injuries or even death. In such cases, a property owner and/or property manager may be held liable for the injuries, damages or losses that occur by filing a premises liability claim. Property owners and property managers have a legal obligation to ensure that the fire escapes are properly designed and maintained, and that they are kept free from debris and other objects that may pose trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall hazards.
Please remember in such a liability claim it is required to prove that the owner/manager of the premises or a management company caused the dangerous condition, and that they knew or should have known of the dangerous condition, but took no action, or that the owner or a manager should have known about the dangerous or slippery stairway because a reasonable person taking care of the property would have discovered and removed or repaired the hazardous condition.
Injured victims can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families of deceased victims may be able to file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for lost future income, pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, etc.
If You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident involving a fire escape, there are several steps you can take to protect your legal rights:
• Report the incident right away to your property owner and/or property manager and obtain a signed copy of the report.
• If your injury accident occurred on a commercial property, file an incident report promptly. Most businesses require their managers to document accidents that occur on the premises. Again, make sure you obtain a signed copy of this report.
• Take photographs of the location where your fall occurred. For example, if the rungs of the fire escape are missing, rusted, broken or otherwise damaged, make sure you capture this evidence.
• Get immediate medical attention and treatment for your injuries. This not only ensures that you are on the road to recovery, but also helps document your injuries should you choose to file an injury claim later.
• Keep track of days of work you have missed as a result of your injuries.
• Save all receipts and keep track of expenses incurred as a result of your injuries.
• Contact an experienced New York slip-and-fall attorney who will get working on your case right away and help you receive maximum compensation for all your losses.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, or if you have lost a loved one, 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. Our law firm recovered $1,700,000 for a woman who slipped and fell and received no hospital or medical treatment for one month after the accident.
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 cases in 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.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com
Source: The New York Times
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