One person was injured and 58 people (including 20 children) were displaced when part of a building came crashing down at around 2 p.m. Wednesday in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) reports that a second floor parapet wall, which was supporting a heavy sign as well as a roll-up door, gave out and caused the partial building collapse. One inspector speculated to ABC7NY that the heavy metal sign attached to the parapet was what caused the façade to begin to break off, sending bricks, metal and other debris crashing down onto the busy sidewalk below.
One woman suffered an injured leg due in the partial building collapse, but declined to receive medical attention at the scene. Firefighters had to escort residents up one-by-one to grab essential items while they inspected the stability of the building and cause of the accident. Debris continued to fall from the building throughout the afternoon.
The three-story building, which is located on Church Ave., just off Nostrand Ave., is not the only one affected by this accident. The city also declared four connected walk-up buildings to be potentially unstable, forcing 58 residents from the 16 apartments to find other places to stay temporarily. The owners of these four structures will be responsible for stabilizing the façade so that the buildings, which include both businesses and residences, can be usable again.
The obligation of building owners, inspectors, architects and construction workers to construct and maintain stable structures is one of the oldest known to man. In fact, laws demanding the safe construction of buildings, and the safety of the tenants therein, are present in the Code of Hammurabi, an ancient Babylonian code of law dating roughly back to 1750 BC.
In this case, the DOB is investigating the structure that partially collapsed, as well as the stability of the buildings surrounding it. They will likely try and determine when the building was last inspected, and what the result of that inspection was, in order to assess if the building owners involved in this collapse were negligent in any way. They may also look for unauthorized changes made to the interior of the building which may have had unintended effects on its structural integrity.
As of now, the investigation is ongoing. For the woman injured, for the 58 displaced residents, and for New Yorkers everywhere concerned with the damages that can result from building collapses, the answers cannot come soon enough.
Injuries resulting from building collapses can be devastating. Head, back and neck injuries are especially common due to the high risk of falling debris. Block O’Toole & Murphy has successfully litigated a variety of building collapse cases:
- $3,250,000 settlement for a construction worker after the floor he was standing on collapsed, requiring surgery to his right knee and both shoulders
- $2,300,000 settlement for a Brooklyn man who required neck surgery after the ceiling of his bathroom collapsed due to water damage
- $1,450,000 settlement for a 25-year-old woman who required spinal fusion surgery after her bathroom ceiling collapsed on her while she was showering
- $1,325,000 settlement after the floor of a Manhattan apartment building collapsed, sending a painter crashing down to the floor below and requiring him to have spinal fusion surgery
Please see our full Verdicts & Settlements page for a complete list.