Landlord negligence & building code enforcement: a matter of life or death

The tragic death of a 35-year-old woman, who fell to her death while leaning or sitting on an East 57th St. apt balcony, recently could have been prevented if the balcony had been “up to code”. In other words, the building owners (landlords) who had been cited for violations previously could have prevented this death if they had promptly corrected the violations. Instead, a young woman has left a heart broken family and devastated friends behind to mourn her unnecessary loss.

Every balcony at the prewar building on East 57th Street, including the one where the young advertising executive sat, was “deemed defective or not up to code,” a law-enforcement source said. “They weren’t strong enough to hold her up,” said another law-enforcement source. “All of the apartment balconies were defective or not up to code.”

The woman and her friend were on her 17th-floor balcony for a smoke at about 12:30 a.m. when the railing broke and she dropped to her death.

Tenants in her building were barred from stepping out onto the terraces and balconies until after inspections had been conducted. The City Department of Buildings said the building owners were six months late in filing a facade report and could face a $1,500 fine. “They needed to file the report by August 2012, but they filed it on Feb. 21, 2013,” a Buildings representative said. There is usually a $250-per-month late fee, but it’s unclear if that penalty was imposed.

The cause of the fall at the residential high rise on the Upper East Side was likely an aging balcony railing installed with decades-old technology, investigators told reporters. The railing was installed without welded rivets. City engineers who were called to the scene knew immediately that the aluminum railing was not up to code. In 1926, when the railing would have been installed, the code did not have weight-bearing requirements involving rivets, the type of metal used for them, or how the railing would be fastened to the building. “There were clearly a failure of the rivets,” a law enforcement source said. The property was updated in 1969 and in 2008, but only new construction elements are required to follow the most up-to-date building code.

The building has changed owners several times since construction, and the current building owners took over the condo tower a year ago. By law, the present owners of a property are the responsible parties if an accident occurs due to landlord negligence.

New York City Landlord Negligence

Typically, NYC landlord negligence cases usually involve slips, trips and falls due to wet and slippery floors, broken stairs or walkways, loose carpets or missing or broken handrails. Other types of landlord negligence accidents are caused by collapsed ceilings and floors, broken radiators or leaking steam or hot water pipes, unsafe or broken elevators or overall poor maintenance of the property. Injuries from these hazardous conditions range from fractures and broken bones to burns, paralysis or other permanent disability and in some cases, like the woman who fell from her balcony, death.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to an uncorrected hazardous condition, you need to speak with an experienced New York landlord negligence attorney.

Get Fair Compensation for your Negligence Claim

Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum is an experienced Brooklyn and Bronx landlord negligence lawyer and has been successful in obtaining full and fair compensation for the injured persons or their families in these situations.

Of course, no amount of money will ever truly compensate for the loss of a loved one or correct a permanent disability, but a large verdict or settlement does accomplish two things.

The first is to ensure that you or your family members medical or funeral bills are paid, that lost earnings and future wages are compensated for and that you’re able to resume your life in as a comfortable quality of life as possible.

The second purpose is to take the profit motive away from landlords who by taking short cuts or not making necessary repairs created or allowed the hazardous condition to exist uncorrected. It also sends a message to those who are tempted to disregard tenants safety that this misconduct will not be tolerated, thereby increasing the level of safety throughout the community. In other words, a warning: act responsibly or face similar consequences.

Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum will investigate the situation, facts, and circumstances surrounding your injuries and prosecute the case to ensure that you or your family member receives their rightful compensation. Landlords must understand they can’t cut costs for maintaining the building at the expense of the tenants. Injured tenants have rights, and if these rights are violated, the landlord or their insurance company must pay for these injures.

This includes medical expenses from the injury, lost past and future earnings plus the physical and emotional pain and suffering an injury can inflict on the mind and body. Mr. Kestenbaum has been able to win verdicts and negotiate settlements including $450,000 for a client who was injured when they slipped on a waxed floor with no signs and $225,000 for a client injured in a trip and fall on premises case.

Contact New York Landlord Negligence Attorney Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum

Call (718) 237-5586 to speak with Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum, an experienced Brooklyn landlord negligence lawyer today. There is never a fee for his consultation and he is paid only if he collects money damages for your injuries. He is located at 26 Court St. Suite 1806 across the street from the Brooklyn Supreme Court, near the 2,3,4,5,M & R Court St/ Borough Hall subway stop.

Call him to protect your rights and you and your families’ financial future.

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