New York City has ordered 220 building owners and property managers to take protective steps such as installing sidewalk sheds. The requirement comes just weeks after a woman was killed by a piece of a façade that fell from a 17-story building near Times Square in Manhattan. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the New York City Department of Buildings is not only doubling its number of façade inspectors to 22 but also stepping up the frequency and thoroughness of facade inspections for buildings taller than six stories.
Safeguards for Pedestrians
After the pedestrian was killed on Dec. 17, building officials set out to inspect about 1,331 buildings that had outstanding violations. On Monday, officials said that about one in six of those buildings lacked proper safeguards and that the owners were issued summonses requiring action.
The victim – a 60-year-old architect and a well-known philanthropist – was struck by debris as she walked in the 700 block of Seventh Avenue. The building’s owner had been issued a violation in April for failing to maintain the façade. However, in September, the building’s owner challenged it in an administrative court where the judge downgraded the violation to indicate that it did not pose an immediate hazard.
The Wall Street Journal also reports that months before this fatal incident, a lawyer for the building’s owner told the administrative court the façade did not pose an immediate danger. At the Sept. 12 hearing, a buildings department official justified the issuance of a class-one violation, which is the most severe violation a property owner can receive. However, a lawyer who appeared on behalf of the building owner, said that the evidence presented by the buildings department was not enough to show an immediate hazard.
City officials have said, under the new rules, the city will re-inspect a building within 60 days of it being found to have an unsafe façade to ensure safety measures are taken. If owners fail to install protective features for pedestrians, city contractors will do it and bill the owner for the expenses.
Falling debris may have catastrophic if not fatal consequences for passersby and pedestrians. In addition to fatalities, these types of incidents may result in major injuries such as head trauma, spinal cord injuries, multiple broken bones, internal organ injuries, etc. Victims with such injuries may suffer lifelong disabilities. This tragic incident in New York City as well as several more that have occurred over the last few years underscore the need for building owners and managing agents to be diligent about doing regular façade inspections and carrying out the necessary repairs when facades are not strong enough or present a danger to pedestrians.
There are several parties that may potentially be held liable for construction site injuries involving bystanders or pedestrians. Construction companies, including contractors and sub-contractors, owners and property managers have a responsibility to ensure that scaffolds and other structures are properly secured so they don’t pose a hazard to workers, visitors or pedestrians who are 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. Liable parties in such cases may include construction companies, general contractors, sub-contractors, property or building owners/managers, manufacturers of defective products, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Whether you are a worker who has suffered injuries in a construction accident or a bystander or pedestrian who has been injured due to falling debris at a worksite, 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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