With more than one million structures and a population density of about 27,000 people per square mile, New York City is one of the densest cities in the world. This also makes it a highly dangerous place when it comes to falling debris.
The Prevalence of Falling Objects in NYC
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that more than 50,000 people are hit by falling debris in New York City every year. This encompasses both construction site workers and other employees as well as everyday people who are struck while standing or walking down the street. Many of these incidents result in catastrophic injury or death, and those impacted by them can be entitled to financial compensation. Who is responsible for this compensation? Is it the building owner or the company in charge of the construction site? This depends on the case, and sometimes it can be both. But that’s not all. There are other parties involved who could be held liable in your case, depending on the circumstances.
Who can be held liable for falling debris in New York City? These are typically the parties who are responsible for any injuries or deaths involved.
The Current Tenet
Not all falling object cases in NYC are the result of construction-related negligence. There are times that the falling object that strikes a person can come from the window or balcony of a residence or residential building. These objects can include flowerpots, tools, or any object deliberately thrown by a person. If this is the case, then the person who threw or dropped the object, or the person/people who currently reside in the residence, can be the ones responsible for any injuries or deaths caused.
This is also the case if the building is being used for commercial purposes. The current business that has rented out or owns the building or unit can be liable should one of their employees cause a catastrophic accident via recklessness or negligence.
The Owner of the Building
Every building owner is responsible for the safety and management of their property, whether construction is being done on it or not. They are required to have reasonable safeguards to prevent falling objects and take all necessary precautions, including routine maintenance, to ensure that nothing is able to fall from their buildings. There are, at times, incidents that can involve everything from pieces of a building’s exterior to windowpanes and air conditioning units falling from a building. If this is the case, the building owner can be held liable for damages.
The Construction Company/Contractor
Many falling debris incidents happen when construction is being performed on a building. The causes of these catastrophic events can be:
- Unsecured items: OSHA dictates that all tools, materials, and other construction-related items must be properly secured when working from any height. In many cases, safety nets are also supposed to be used to prevent items from falling from heights.
- Equipment malfunction or misuse: even if safety devices are in place, they can often fail or be used improperly, resulting in items falling and injuring others.
- Improper or inadequate training: all employees must be adequately trained to use safety equipment. If they are not, the chances of misuse occurring are heightened.
If you are a construction worker on this site, you are also protected by the Labor Law Section 240, which is commonly referred to as the NYC scaffolding law. This law protects onsite construction workers from falls and fall-related accidents, requiring that contractors and construction company provide the necessary equipment and safety measures to protect employees while they are working on or around scaffolding equipment.
If a product defect is the primary cause (or one of the causes) of debris falling, the company who manufactured the tools, devices, or products involved can be held liable because the equipment they provided was not operating as intended.
A Combination of Factors
In many cases, there are several parties that can be held liable for injuries or death resulting from falling objects. These cases can be complex, and proving that parties are liable for their negligence or recklessness requires a lot of knowledge in case law as well as in construction site regulations.
At Morelli Law Firm, we are specialists in both construction site accidents and cases involving falling debris and objects from buildings in New York City. We have represented clients in catastrophic injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits, winning large settlements and verdicts for our clients.
Some law firms are afraid to go to court; we are not. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by falling objects in NYC, contact the attorneys at Morelli Law Firm today.