Cold weather routinely makes the streets of New York treacherous for pedestrians as well as others sharing the roads. The New York Times reports that in addition to slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall hazards, especially in the winter or the dangers of falling into an open sidewalk cellar or being struck by a vehicle, New Yorkers have to be wary of falling ice that may strike them. During wintertime ice can form pretty much on any building or structure, such as high rises, low-rise tenements, railings, rooftops, ledges or even windows, etc.
Falling Icicles and Ice Slabs
The danger of falling icicles or ice slabs is not new in New York. The threat is greater today largely because of a marked increase in new, angular towers, which reach soaring heights, and are built from materials such as glass and steel, thereby promoting the formation of ice. The Times reports that the acceleration of climate change may also contribute to icing issues.
On the morning of Dec. 22, police shut down three blocks of Central Park to vehicular and pedestrian traffic as ice fell from towers and crashed to the ground and into the park. On Dec. 18, a piece of ice came loose from a tower under construction in Midtown and struck a 55-year-old man in the face, cutting his mouth and lips. The Times interviewed another man who saw a chunk of ice fall from above and slam into his parked vehicle. The windows of the car disintegrated and the back of the roof crumbled, totaling the vehicle. Thankfully, the man was not inside his vehicle.
Understanding the Science
So, why is falling ice so dangerous? When an object falls from a height – whether it’s a chunk of ice or anything else – it can accelerate to dangerous speeds. For example, a slab of ice falling from the top of a 15-floor building can reach speeds of 60 to 70 mph before it hits the ground. The size of the object may also make a difference. The larger the piece of ice that falls, the greater the risk of serious injuries.
Falling ice can cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries. In Feb. 4, 1994, a 24-year-old woman suffered chest and shoulder injuries after a 2-foot-wide slab of ice fell from 21 stories high (about 300 feet) and struck her. She survived, but underwent 14 surgeries and received 114 units of blood. She also lost use of her left arm. In 2014, ice and snow fell off 1 World Trade Center and fell 1,000 feet onto walkways below posing a serious injury risk to pedestrians.
Responsibility of Building Owners
The New York City Department of Buildings alerts building owners, construction companies and landlords when the weather poses a risk of ice falling off buildings. However, city law requires property owners and property managers to remove snow and ice to prevent these types of accidents. They are required to clear roofs and overhangs and remove ice and snow from trees and gutters. Property owners and property managers have a legal responsibility to maintain their premises in a manner that is safe for the public. And this includes taking the necessary steps to prevent ice and snow on their properties from posing a falling hazard.
Building owners, managers and/or management companies may be held liable for injuries and damages caused by falling ice with a premises liability lawsuit. Last week, officials with the Department of Buildings issued a violation for failure to safeguard property to a general contractor at 217 West 57th Street where ice had fallen and struck a man. The contractor was also ordered to clear the site of ice and snow. Building owners and managing agents must be aware of the dangers that their premises present in cold weather as well as the spots where ice and snow may collect.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of falling ice, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys with 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 over 48 years, our skilled attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims.
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. Our law firm also 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 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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