Premises Liability

How NYC Prevents Sidewalk Accidents

The City of New York knows that cracked or poorly maintained sidewalks are an accident waiting to happen. And they also know that they have a responsibility to maintain these pedestrian thoroughfares. But, how do they go about preventing these accidents and what more can be done?

According to the NYC Department of Transportation’s homepage, there are 12,750 miles of sidewalks in the city. The DOT’s goal is to make all of them safe for people walking around the city and to prevent injuries. To this end, they replace more than 2 million square feet of sidewalks each year.

Most of this replacement work is done on city property and in residential areas. But, some of this replacement work is done when property owners fail to step up to the plate themselves.

A sidewalk law passed in the past few years shifts some responsibility of sidewalk maintenance to property owners. Continue reading


NYC Woman Falls Into Trash Chute, Nearly Loses Arm

Thirty-year old Margaret Baumer nearly lost her arm when she fell head-first into her apartment building’s garbage chute over the past weekend. According to the NY Daily News, she was trapped in the chute for close to an hour before emergency responders were able to free her. It isn’t clear how she fell or if there were safeguards in place to prevent the accident.

The accident happened in the wee hours of the morning on West 21st Street in Chelsea. Emergency workers reportedly arrived on the scene at about 5:50 a.m.

The woman had fallen head-first into the chute and was trapped by the hydraulic-powered compactor. She was stuck for “at least” 45 minutes, according to officials.

“It was being crushed” said an FDNY source about Baumer’s arm. “She was in a world of pain.”

A neighbor remarked that she heard the woman’s friends discussing how to get her out before help arrived. Said neighbor didn’t offer to help because the situation didn’t sound serious and she believed it was “just drunk people.” Investigators are looking into whether alcohol may have played a role in the accident. Continue reading


Man Trips Over Trash, Hit by Garbage Truck

A 31-year old man who had only been living in the city nine months was killed last week when he fell in front of a Sanitation truck. According to the NY Daily News, the accident happened because business owners in the area have been putting their trash on the sidewalk, creating a fall hazard and causing the man to trip.

Andrew Schoonover was out with his sister that night and had been watching the game at a bar earlier. The two parted ways and Schoonover ended up in Manhattan. It was about 1:20 a.m. when emergency workers were called to E. 84th St. on a report that a man had been hit.

The accident happened in front of a popular pizzeria, Two Boots. The business has been cited for leaving a sidewalk obstruction. While the manager of Two Boots had no comment for reporters, it was made known that construction in the area had forced businesses to leave their garbage on the sidewalk rather than directly in front of their property. Continue reading


Carnival Worker’s Death Exposes Dangers

This past weekend, a man was killed as he worked at the Feast of Mother Cabrini festival in Brentwood. According to reports, the man was trying to change the music on the ride when it hit him in the head.

The Washington Post reports 22 year old Michael Austin was only a few weeks into his job with the amusement company when the accident occurred.

The Scat ride features baskets that spin on rotating arms. Austin went under the ride to do something and was hit when he stood up. He was transported to the hospital where he later died.

There were 16 people on the ride at the time and none of them were hurt. The owner said inspectors looked at the ride after the accident and found nothing wrong with it. He also notified the Labor Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about the accident.

Accidents like this are rare, particularly for the carnival workers who are used to working around these large and often dangerous machines. More often, a ride patron is the one who is injured.

Carnival rides are often used for decades after their manufacturing. They are hulking machines with large working parts and their whole purpose is to carry people through frightening and exciting movements—making it easy to see how they could turn dangerous in inexperienced hands or if there was a mechanical flaw. Continue reading


NYC Trees Are Accidents Waiting to Happen

The trees in Central Park and around the city are beautiful—they add a bit of nature to an otherwise cold, concrete world. But the trees are responsible for numerous accidents and even a few deaths over the past several years. The N.Y. Times reports the city is unable to keep up on tree maintenance, making them far more susceptible to breakage and tragedy.

In the past ten years, the city has paid millions in damages to residents who were injured or killed by falling branches. The risks are increased now, as the city struggles to afford the recommended maintenance and inspections necessary for trees of their age.

Currently, park employees are required to inspect trees every two weeks, looking for risk factors that may indicate a sick or dying tree. But, as the Times reports, employees aren’t always trained on how to identify these risk factors, and may miss signs that a branch is about to fall. Continue reading


Electronic Gate Crushes Brooklyn Boy – Landlord Liability Suit?

A 12-year old boy was killed this week in Brownsville when he and others were playing on the electronic, roll-up gate that secures the apartment complex they live in. Some are questioning why the gate continued to rise despite him hanging on, saying it should have detected the extra weight.

According to NBC New York, the kids frequently played on the gate, despite some residents telling them to stop. But with nothing else to play on, according to those who live there, the kids continued to ride the gate up and down as it operated.

The 12-year old Brooklyn boy was doing just that when he became trapped. He was riding the gate and became scared to jump down as it got higher, according to one child-witness. As it reached the top, he became pinned in the frame. Continue reading


Nearly 100,000 kids hurt in stair injuries each year

Dangerous StaircaseAccording to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, a child under the age of 5 is treated in a U.S. emergency room for a stair-related injury every six minutes.

The study reportedly found that more than 93,000 children were hurt on stairs every year between 1999 and 2008, with a total of 932,000 injuries to children under the age of 5 during that decade. Researchers believe that a variety of factors are responsible for the high number of injuries, including faulty stairway design and maintenance and lack of parental education.

In the study, researchers found that about 75 percent of children who were hurt on the stairs suffered head and neck injuries. About one-third of the total injuries were to the soft tissue, one-fourth were cuts, and one-fifth were closed-head injuries. The remaining harm was in the form of dislocations, fractures and similar injuries.

In sum, about 3 percent of the children injured on the stairs required hospitalization. The number of stair-related fatalities is unknown. Continue reading


New York Yankee recovering from fall down stairs

David RobertsonIn baseball, as in life, one wrong move can change the game. A slip-and-fall accident, a bus accident, or any other premises liability incident can leave one incapacitated and unable to fulfill their obligations. This could result in missed work, lost wages, and mounting medical bills.

For New York Yankees pitcher David Robertson, a recent fall down a flight of stairs at his home will keep him from the pitcher’s mound for an undetermined amount of time. Robertson was carrying two empty boxes to the recycling bin when he fell down the stairs, resulting in a mid-foot sprain. This simple misstep will keep him off the field until a full recovery has been made. Foot injuries are difficult for anyone, but for a pitcher they are particularly serious because they have the potential to alter a throwing motion, which could cause arm and shoulder damage.

Although Robertson’s injury took place at home, many common injuries happen while people are walking in grocery stores, restaurants and malls. People often feel responsible for their own injuries, but it’s important to remember that property managers and employees have a responsibility to address potential hazards that could result in accidents for those walking through.

Most of us mere mortals don’t have the pressure of performing for the New York Yankees weighing on us, but we also may not have the kind of resources, medical care, and support that Robertson has as the Yankees team physician and others work to get him back on the field. That’s why it’s so important to recognize that even a “simple” accident may warrant a lawsuit.

Receiving compensation for injuries may be necessary to cover lost wages due to missed work, and to receiving the necessary medical care for a full recovery. You may not be needed on the pitcher’s mound, but chances are you’re a valuable player who is needed in some area of the game of life.

Source: New York Post, “Clumsy accident offers little relief for New York Yankees,” Kevin Kernan, March 9, 2012


New York City elevator accident update: five workers fired

Transel Elevator, Inc., the company responsible for maintaining the elevators in the Manhattan office building where a young advertising executive was killed last December, has fired five of its elevator mechanics in connection with the accident. Transel announced the dismissals only two days after New York City investigators reported their finding that a crucial safety system (which could have prevented the elevator accident) had been disabled.

Our attorneys have closely followed this story since it occurred (see previous posts created in January and February) and are not surprised by these latest developments. Employers often fire employees after a serious or fatal accident for various reasons, sometimes justifiably and sometimes not. What Transel’s decision to fire these mechanics will not do, however, is relieve the company of legal responsibility for employee actions occurring within the scope of employment. Continue reading


City Finds Fault With Maintenance Company in Deadly Elevator Accident

The blame for the elevator accident death of advertising executive Suzanne Hart rests with the maintenance company who had worked on the elevator just minutes before the tragic accident, according to the city’s Department of Buildings and the Department of Investigations. As a result, the city has suspended the license of that company, Transel Elevator, and is seeking to have it revoked.

On the morning of December 14, 2011, repair workers finished their work on elevator nine at 285 Madison Avenue. They left the building at 9:55 a.m. At 9:56 a.m. Ms. Hart began to enter elevator nine and was pinned between floors when the elevator lurched upwards. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the NY Times, the elevator repair workers made three mistakes, mistakes which ultimately caused the elevator accident and Hart’s death:

  1. They failed to re-enable a safety circuit after they had completed their work. This circuit had been bypassed for their maintenance work to be completed.
  2. They did not call the Buildings Department for an inspection before putting the elevator back in service.
  3. They failed to post notice that the elevator was being worked on.

Had the safety circuit been re-enabled, there is a good chance Ms. Hart wouldn’t have lost her life in an elevator accident that morning. Continue reading


Woman attacked by chimpanzee files personal injury lawsuit

If someone is injured on another person’s property, the property owner may be held responsible for premises liability. A wide variety of injuries can result from a property owner’s negligence, including injuries from an animal attack.

One example of such an injury occurred when a 58-year-old woman was attacked by her friend’s “pet” chimpanzee. The 200-pound wild animal lived in a residential home. The woman says she was always concerned that the animal would attack an innocent victim, but she never thought it would be herself. Continue reading


Unsafe billboards in NYC pose premises liability risk

Sometimes, it takes a serious accident that could expose property owners to the reality of premises liability before they realize the potential dangers posed on their property.

Last month a billboard fell onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and into traffic lanes. The billboard was a giant Mega Millions Lottery sign. The day it flew onto the elevated portion of the BQE there were 40 m.p.h. winds. Continue reading