New York City Lawyers Helping Building Collapse Victims

Nobody ever expects a building to collapse, whether it is under construction, finished, in use, or about to be demolished. A collapse can be total or partial, and in either case the results can be catastrophic and often deadly.

A partial building collapse could include a floor or ceiling collapse, or a staircase which caves in and causes someone to fall. Such collapses may be brought on by degenerative conditions such as water leaks, mold or fire damage. To prevent these types of collapses, building owners, landlords and supervisors must act quickly on any tenant complaints that they receive.

Building collapses could also result from errors made in the design, construction or demolition of a building. To prevent these kinds of collapses, engineers, architects and construction companies must carefully adhere to New York Building Codes and sound design principles, so that buildings can be constructed or demolished in a safe and controlled manner.

If you or someone you love have been injured in a building collapse, an experienced attorney will be able to help you navigate the complex insurance process and pursue compensation for the injuries you suffered, so that you can focus on your health and a speedy recovery.

Block O'Toole & Murphy has won over 300 case results exceeding $1 million for seriously injured clients. Call 212-735-5300 to receive a free legal consultation from an experienced personal injury attorney.

Who Is Responsible for Causing a Building Collapse?

Finding the party responsible for a building collapse is critical to filing a successful lawsuit, and for preventing future collapses. To do this, it must be determined not only who is responsible for the defect which caused the collapse, but whether or not that party should have anticipated and prevented that defect from ever occurring. The question of whether or not the cause of a partial or total collapse was foreseeable will need to be answered to establish responsibility for a building collapse.

One common example is a ceiling collapse caused by a water leak. If a tenant alerts their landlord of a water leak coming through their ceiling, but their landlord decides to wait a month to see if the leak will resolve itself and the ceiling collapses in that time, then it could be said that the landlord failed to foresee the ceiling collapse and is responsible for the damages suffered. If the tenant does not alert their landlord in a timely manner, however, it will be difficult to prove that the landlord could have foreseen a defect that he or she was not made aware of.

Parties that may be liable in the event of a partial or total building collapse include:

  • Demolition Foremen: Some building demolitions occur in multiple phases to ensure that the structure is brought down in a controlled manner. If done incorrectly, buildings could collapse prematurely, endangering the workers involved in the demolition.
  • Building Managers or Landlords: When issues such as mold, rust, leaking water, or fire damage are left untreated, a building manager may be held responsible for not properly maintaining a building.
  • General Contractors: If inadequate materials were supplied during the construction phase, or if construction workers were not provided with the basic oversight they need to perform their job correctly, the general contractor may be at fault.
  • Subcontractors: If a specific phase of the building process was improperly done, such as a welding job which did not properly bond together leading to compromised structural integrity, a subcontractor may be held liable.
  • Engineers or Architects: Sometimes a building can be built exactly to specifications but still fail because of an error made in the plans by the engineer or architect. An example of this would be calculating the 'dead load' of a building (the weight of the structure itself), but failing to account for the 'live load' (the people and furniture that will occupy it).

We have learned much about what causes a building to collapse as of 2018. If a building collapses, there is generally more than one person responsible. An experienced construction accident attorney will be able to investigate the complex chain of events that leads to such a miscalculation and potential tragedy.

Why Do Buildings Collapse?

There are many different parties who must adequately perform their job responsibilities to ensure that a building retains its structural integrity. Conditions resulting from negligence or incompetence which could lead to a building collapse include but are not limited to:

  • Improper Demolition Procedures: Buildings are sometimes demolished in phases, and if this is not done properly, parts of the structure could come down before workers are expecting, potentially leading to disaster.
  • Rust, Mold or Water Leaks: When left untreated, conditions such as rust or mold can weaken a building and leave it prone to sagging, cracking and eventually collapsing.
  • Ceiling Collapses: A ceiling collapse can be evidence of a deeper problem within the building, such as a water leak, and may lead to further collapses if the root problem is not addressed.
  • Unauthorized Changes During Construction: Even small deviations from the original blueprint could result in a building which is in danger of collapse.
  • Foundation Failures: The foundation of a building may give way if the soil it is set in shifts, which can be caused by an excess of water in the dirt.
  • Badly Placed Construction Materials: Building materials and dirt piles must be carefully placed so as not to apply too much lateral pressure on the foundation, possibly compromising the structural integrity of the building.
  • Excess of Snow Buildup: Accumulations of snow on rooftops or the tops of garages or porches can add a significant amount of stress and weight to a structure.
  • Inadequate Building Materials: Structural elements may degrade and deteriorate over time, particularly in older buildings.
  • Engineering or Design Failures: Although rare in America, it is possible that the architect behind the building's design makes a miscalculation, resulting in a building which is doomed to collapse.

There is a wealth of accumulated knowledge and extensively refined building codes designed to ensure the safe construction, maintenance and demolition of buildings. When somebody involved in this process attempts to cut corners or is simply incompetent, the results could be disastrous. In the event of a building collapse, a lawyer should be contacted so that the issue can be investigated, and future collapses prevented.

Contact a New York Building Collapse Lawyer

Whether it occurs during construction, demolition or because of improper maintenance, building collapses can take lives or cause injuries that leave long-lasting emotional and physical scars. If you or someone you love have been injured as the result of part of a building collapse, it is crucial that you contact a personal injury lawyer who can investigate the cause and fight for your rights.

The attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have a history of successfully litigating cases involving building collapses, including:

To receive a free legal consultation, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form. Serving Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island, and upstate New York.