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  • Writer's pictureSameer Nath, Esq.

Ceiling Collapses in Municipal and Private Buildings

Injuries from Ceiling Falls: Sudden and unexpected, a ceiling fall can cause disastrous injuries when pipes, beams, electrical wires, fixtures and debris come crashing down on a person’s head and body. Ceiling collapses can occur for a variety of reasons including rotting wood, pooling liquids, and even rainwater infiltration from the building’s exterior.

Bubbling paint as depicted here can signal an impending ceiling collapse.

Whose fault is it?

While a landlord/ landowner may be at fault, it can also be the fault of an upstairs tenant, plumber, a construction company, building owner, maintenance worker, or other entities. In order to develop a sound strategy to ensure the right people are held accountable, you should seek out an experienced Personal Injury attorney.

Are you at risk?

Dripping water, discoloration, or bubbling paint could be signals of an impending collapse. If you observe anything like this, notify your landlord or building superintendent as soon as possible, preferably both verbally and in writing. Quick verbal notification can prevent a disaster, and written notice can protect you if they later claim the fall was unexpected.

If you are hurt in a ceiling collapse:

Get medical attention as soon as possible. Advise the ambulance and hospital staff of every place your body was struck by falling ceiling fragments. If you fell after being struck, inform them of what parts of your body struck the ground or walls. Secondary injuries often arise when a person struck by a ceiling is caused to fall.

If anyone is with you, have them take pictures of the collapse site while waiting for the ambulance. If you’re alone, take the photos once you return from the hospital. Notify your landlord of the collapse so the ceiling can be repaired.

Call a Personal Injury Attorney as soon as you are safely able.

There may have been complaints by other tenants or previous plumbing or insulation work orders that you don’t know about. Maybe the landlord received tickets and fines in the past for poor building conditions. An experienced Personal Injury attorney can investigate the circumstances and history beyond the accident itself.

Additionally, there are statutory deadlines which must be navigated in order to protect lawsuit. For example, if you are in a municipal building when the accident occurs, New York General Municipal Law (G.M.L.) Section 50-e requires that a Notice of Claim be filed with the municipality within 90 days of the occurrence. The Notice of Claim must specify (among other things) the time, place and manner of the occurrence.

In cases involving public housing authorities (such as NYCHA) the claim must be filed with the authority itself, and not just the municipality. After the Notice of Claim is filed, you will be required to testify at a G.M.L. 50-h hearing where you will answer questions under oath posed by a lawyer. At this hearing, you should have a lawyer protecting your rights and interests at your side. The Notice of Claim and 50-h hearings should be handled before your lawsuit is even filed. If you are injured in a privately owned building, the time limits and requirements are different.

Contact: Our office is thoroughly experienced in handling ceiling collapse cases in both publicly owned and private buildings. If you have been injured in such an accident in Westchester County or the New York City boroughs, call 914-500-7990 at any time to set up a free consultation.

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