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Ceiling Collapses

New York City Ceiling Collapse Attorneys

Fighting for Ceiling & Building Collapse Victims in New York

Few people typically worry about the likelihood of a collapsing ceiling, but the reality is that many buildings in New York City and the surrounding areas are over a century old and in poor condition. When property owners neglect to maintain buildings, ceiling and roof collapses, which can cause severe injuries and even death, become more of a frightening possibility.

In some cases, these collapses may also be caused by structural defects or improper installation of materials that should not have been used in the first place. In these types of scenarios, victims may be able to seek compensation for their losses from those responsible for the collapse.

If you suffered injuries due to a ceiling or building collapse, turn to Sutton & Smyth, LLP. Our New York City ceiling collapse lawyers are well-versed in premises liability law and understand how to hold negligent parties accountable for these avoidable tragedies. We will aggressively fight to protect your interests in and out of the courtroom and will make every effort to secure maximum compensation. 

You have limited time to take legal action, so do not wait to reach out. Schedule a free initial consultation with our team today by calling (866) 935-1862 or contacting us online.

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Our top priority is to devise customized legal strategies that are tailored to the unique legal needs of our clients, no matter how simple or complicated their situations might be.

  • $1.7 Million Property Damage Due to Fire
  • $775K Motorcycle Accident
  • $750K Ceiling Collapse in Rental Apartment
  • $585K Bicycle Accident Involving Taxi
  • $485K Sidewalk Trip & Fall

Common Ceiling Collapse Injuries

A ceiling collapse can have devastating consequences for those inside the building. In addition to the property damage incurred, individuals may suffer serious physical injuries as a result of falling debris and other related hazards. Ceiling collapses are often catastrophic and can often cause fatal injuries. Asbestos exposure can be another major issue that victims face, as the dangerous material can make up a large portion of the collapse debris in some older buildings. 

Injuries sustained in ceiling collapses frequently include:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Limb loss
  • Psychological distress
  • Wrongful death

What Damages Can I Recover in a Ceiling Collapse Lawsuit in New York City?

You can only recover compensation for economic and non-economic losses linked to a ceiling collapse if you file a civil lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. Whether you are pursuing a premises liability or product liability case, you typically have three years from the date of the collapse to start the legal process in New York. If someone you love suffered fatal injuries due to a ceiling collapse, parties with standing have two years from the date of their passing to bring a wrongful death claim. 

Our New York City ceiling collapse lawyers will fight to recover fair compensation for all damages, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income from missed work
  • Reduced earning potential
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

What to Do After a Ceiling Collapse

If you have been injured in a celiling collapse incident in New York, here is an overview of the legal steps you should take to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the priority. Get medical help immediately and ensure you receive proper treatment for your injuries. Document all medical treatment and keep copies of medical records.
  2. Report the Incident: Report the ceiling collapse to the property owner, landlord, or property manager as soon as possible. Ensure that the incident is documented in writing. Take photos or videos of the collapsed ceiling if it's safe to do so.
  3. Preserve Evidence: Preserve any evidence related to the incident, such as photographs, videos, witness contact information, and any communication with the property owner or manager.
  4. Consult an Attorney: Contact a personal injury attorney experienced in premises liability cases in New York.  At Sutton & Smyth, LLP, we can assess your case, explain your legal rights, and guide you through the process. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations.
  5. File a Claim: Our lawyers can assist you in filing a claim against the responsible party. This may involve filing an insurance claim if the property owner has insurance coverage that applies to the incident.
  6. Investigation: Our team will conduct an investigation to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and assess the extent of your damages. This investigation will help in building a strong case.
  7. Negotiation or Lawsuit: We may negotiate with the responsible party or their insurance company for a settlement that covers your damages. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, our attorneys may file a lawsuit on your behalf.
  8. Court Proceedings: If your case goes to court, your attorney will represent you during legal proceedings. This may involve hearings, depositions, and ultimately a trial if a settlement is not reached.
  9. Settlement or Judgment: If your case is settled either through negotiations or by a court judgment, you will receive compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.

You deserve justice if you have suffered life-altering injuries or lost a loved one in a preventable ceiling or building collapse in New York. Contact us online or call (866) 935-1862 to discuss your legal options with an attorney at Sutton & Smyth, LLP.

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What Causes a Ceiling to Collapse?

Construction, Engineering & Maintenance

Ceilings can collapse for a variety of reasons, from poor maintenance of old structures and substandard initial construction to structural and engineering flaws. During a building’s construction, builders may have used inferior materials, relied on outdated techniques, or delivered shoddy workmanship that can all later contribute to a ceiling collapse. 

Even a perfectly constructed building will still need maintenance to keep it in proper condition and avoid safety issues. Putting off essential maintenance for too long will compromise a building’s structural integrity, which is why property owners have a legal responsibility to ensure basic maintenance is performed and that all applicable building codes are adhered to.

Environmental Factors

Accumulated snow can place excessive strain on a ceiling, potentially triggering a collapse if the snow is not removed promptly. Similarly, water damage caused by leaking pipes or poorly sealed windows can eat away at materials used in the ceiling's structure and weaken it over time. Vermin such as birds or rats that live in attic spaces can burrow into materials and further exacerbate any existing damage. 

Use of Defective Products

Some ceiling collapses may be caused by defective products, such as sheetrock, ceiling joists, and drywall screws. Even a product seemingly unrelated to the ceiling itself, such as a leaky plumbing fixture or an exploding electronic device, can trigger a collapse. In these scenarios, the defective product’s manufacturer may be liable.

Structural Damage

Damage caused by incidents like fires, water leaks, impact, or natural disasters can significantly weaken a ceiling. Even minor damage, if not repaired promptly, can lead to larger structural issues. For instance, a small roof leak might seem inconsequential at first but can gradually weaken the ceiling materials and support structures, eventually causing a collapse.

Storage Overload

In residential or commercial spaces, utilizing attics or upper floors for excessive storage can exceed the designed load-bearing capacity. Stacking heavy boxes, materials, or equipment without considering the weight limits can gradually strain the ceiling structure, causing it to bow, crack, or ultimately collapse under the excessive load.

Renovation and Modification

During renovations or modifications, especially in older buildings, structural alterations might not account for the additional weight. For instance, installing new HVAC systems, adding floors, or creating new spaces without reinforcing the existing structure can result in undue stress on the ceiling.

Determining who precisely is liable requires a complete investigation. Our New York City ceiling collapse attorneys at Sutton & Smyth, LLP can ascertain what caused the event and walk you through your legal options for recovering compensation.

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Ceiling Collapse?

Depending on the circumstances, one or more parties may be liable for a ceiling collapse. 

Under premises liability law, property owners have a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises, meaning they are likely legally responsible if it can be proved they knew or should have known about the risk of ceiling collapse but failed to act. A management company charged with maintaining the building can also be liable under this principle. 

A construction company or repair contractor may also be liable if their shoddy workmanship led to a ceiling collapse. This includes situations where a ceiling collapses due to poor initial construction as well as instances where a contractor fails to conduct adequate maintenance on an aging ceiling. 

Additionally, if the collapse was due to defective materials used in the construction or repair of the ceiling, liability might extend to the manufacturers or suppliers of those materials.

Lastly, in some instances, a third party, unrelated to the property owner or contractors, might be liable. For example, if the collapse occurred due to an accident caused by a vehicle crashing into the building or due to the actions of an independent contractor working nearby, they could be held responsible.

Signs of an Imminent Ceiling Collapse

Ceiling collapses rarely happen without warning. To protect yourself and others, you should be aware of the signs that signal a potential collapse.

Warning signs of an imminent ceiling collapse include:

  • Cracking or bulging in the ceiling
  • Discoloration caused by water damage
  • Sagging or separation between the walls and ceiling
  • Doors or windows that no longer open and close properly
  • Creaking, popping, or groaning noises

If you think your ceiling may be damaged and in danger of collapsing, alert your building’s owner and/or property manager. Take photos and videos of the damage and keep a record of your communications with the owner and/or property manager. If the damage is significant, consider temporarily vacating the property until adequate action is taken.

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