Building Owners Are Responsible for Safety Issues

Falling debris killed a 67-year old woman in Flushing on January 16, 2020. Gusting winds blew down a sign that struck the woman as she was walking down the sidewalk.

The Queens Examiner reported that the sign was from the 41-28 Main Street building called the Golden Mall. The woman was rushed to New York Presbyterian-Queens hospital and she immediately received surgery, but doctors could not save her.

The building facade was unsafe, and with the high winds, it became deadly. The building had several outstanding violations. The Department of Building (DOB) records indicated that the building owner had received a citation in August. The violation was for electrical work and plumbing being done without proper permits.

Councilman Peter Koo ordered the city to shut down the building and erect scaffolding until the safety issues could be further evaluated.

Falling Debris Accidents in New York

If falling debris injures a worker or a passer-by at a construction site, the accident is subject to the Scaffold Law, Labor Law §240/241. Under Labor Law §241, the owner or contractor is liable for the individual’s injury at a construction site.

The law states that “reasonable and adequate protection and safety” must be “provided for all persons passing by the areas, building or other structures in which demolition or excavation work is being performed.” Even when the construction area is unattended, it must be safe. Building owners must see that pedestrians using a public sidewalk or other public thoroughfare are protected from falling objects or materials by some type of overhead protection.

It is unclear whether this site in Flushing was undergoing any construction or whether it was simply in a state of disrepair.

However, if not covered by the Scaffold Law, under premises liability law, owners are also responsible for maintaining safe property conditions.

If you suffer injury as a result of an unsafe building or construction site, an experienced accident lawyer can apprise you of your rights.