Motorcycles, as a mode of transportation, have gained popularity in recent years in the U.S and especially in New York. However, there has also been a steady increase in motorcycle related accidents and injuries. The unfortunate reality is that there still seems to be a prejudice towards motorcycle riders when it comes to accidents and apportioning liability. Many “non-riders” upon hearing about a motorcycle accident will wrongfully assume it was the motorcyclist’s fault because “those things are dangerous.” Or that “the rider must have been reckless.” These opinions are usually far from the truth. In fact, according to The Hurt Report [aka Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures]:
• 75% of motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle and out of those accidents approximately 67% of the accidents were caused because the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle’s right-of-way.
• The failure of motorist to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents.
• The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.
• The median pre-crash speed of a motorcycle is 29.8 mph and the median crash speed was 21.5mph.
Besides the fact that a motorcycle rider is more often than not the innocent victim of an accident-he or she is often faced with unexpected medical bills which are not covered by their motorcycle insurance policy. These bills will have to be litigated along with the rider’s claim for lost wages as well as any claim for pain and suffering.
If you believe that you were injured because of another driver’s negligence you do have legal rights -even if you are not a licensed motorcycle operator, you should always contact an attorney to discuss your possible remedies at law.
When trying to find an attorney, always make sure the law firm has the proper experience and expertise and has handled many motorcycle accident cases, as these can easily become very complicated. In addition, look for an attorney who can successfully argue against the preconceived prejudices toward riders by educating jurors as well as insurance company representatives, about the facts surrounding motorcycle accidents. The personal injury attorneys at Omrani & Taub, P.C., have successfully handled numerous cases for motorcyclists. For a free consultation clients should contact the office at 212-714-1515 or 212-529-7848 (that’s 212-LAW-SUIT).
Many older apartments in New York have plaster walls and ceilings, which differ from modern sheetrock. The plaster is attached to the ceiling joists by means of thin strips of wood called laths. The lath is then attached to the ceiling joist. Prior to the days of the cordless screw gun, most builders used nails to attach the lath to the floor joist, which have a tendency to pull away from the wood over time. The problem with this archaic system is that the wood lath expands and contracts at a much different rate than the hard plaster-causing hairline cracks. These small cracks can be easily fixed if detected early. However add a dangerous condition like a water leak from an upstairs apartment or vibration from upstairs construction and your ceiling is now a ticking time bomb ready to cause havoc when it finally decides to pull away from the ceiling joist.
What causes ceiling collapse
Water from an upstairs apartment or a defective roof, is the main cause in ceiling collapses. Most apartments in buildings are designed with a similar floor plan. This makes it more economical for the builder to run all the water lines on one side of the building (these are known as “wet walls”). Therefore your upstairs neighbor’s bathroom is most likely directly above your bathroom and their kitchen is directly above your kitchen, etc. Once your upstairs neighbor’s sink leaks, tub overflows, has defective grouting around tub or tile work, or has a defective water line in the walls, the water will find its way to your ceiling and saturate the wood lath and plaster. This will cause softening of the wood and put extra weight on the plaster causing the nails to eventually pull away from the floor joist. That’s when those little cracks in the plaster (that went unaddressed) start to provide an escape route for the trapped water and begin to leak. Once they start leaking or dripping the cracks begin to expand and eventually large portions of plaster will detach from the wood lath and crash to the ground, often causing personal injuries to anyone standing under the vicinity of the cracks. Depending on the size of the plaster, thickness of the material, how much water it retained before the ceiling fall-down, and how much wood debris it pulls down with it, the injuries caused could be very catastrophic.
It is extremely important to notify your landlord, superintendent and even the outside management company [if your building has one], upon first noticing any cracks, drips, or dark spots on the ceiling. These could be water stains or the formation of harmful mold. When notifying the proper person for repairs, make sure you have photos of all the problem areas and forward the photos to them in the event that they make the repairs while your not home. It is very important to make your request for repairs in writing, in order to avoid any misunderstandings. A certified letter with return receipt is an excellent choice in the event your complaints are disputed.
Notify and keep records
While most landlords would welcome the notification of a leak, since they have a financial interest in keeping their property safe and in proper repair. The unfortunate reality is that there are those that are considered to be ’slumlords’and could not care about a tenant’s safety, but rather focus their concerns on maximizing profits [by minimizing expenses]. If you find yourself in a situation where the landlord does not respond to your request for repairs it is important to keep a log of all your complaints including the dates given and the names of whom you spoke to or mailed letters to. In addition, it is always a good idea in the event you are part of any government, or city program such as Section 8, to also notify them regarding the condition and habitability of your apartment.
Always seek medical attention
In the event that you or someone in your family does become injured as a result of a ceiling fall down or ceiling collapse, the most important thing is seeking prompt medical attention. Being struck by falling chunks of plaster unexpectedly has been known to cause blunt head trauma, severe neck and back injuries, serious shoulder injuries and on some occasions even paralysis and death. Always seek the proper medical attention immediately. Some neck and back injuries can lead to permanent, debilitating injuries from nerve damage if not treated properly. Never assume it is just a simple bump on the head as this could actually be a concussion that may result in a permanent brain injury if left untreated.
Know your legal rights and options
If you believe that you were injured because of your landlord’s neglect to properly maintain your apartment or if they failed to properly address your complaints, you do have legal rights -even if you are not a named tenant on the lease -you should always contact an attorney to discuss your options.
When trying to find an attorney always make sure the law firm has the proper experience and expertise and has handled premises liability and ceiling fall down cases, as these can easily become very complicated. San Razzano and the premises liability attorneys at Omrani & Taub, P.C., have successfully handled numerous claims against some of New York’s largest property management companies and landlords. For a free consultation clients should contact the office at 212-714-1515 or 212-529-7848 (that’s 212-LAW-SUIT).