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New York Premises Liability Law Blog

Government can only do so much to rein in bad landlords

Tenants in New York City apartments have many resources they can seek out when they experience a problem with their apartment or their landlord. In some cases, injuries sustained in an apartment accident might lead to a tenant's case being heard in court, and even a judgment against a landlord. However, some of those judgments might be all but unenforceable against a landlord who doesn't have the means to pay them.

If it gets to the point where a landlord has to give up the property, that still might not solve the tenants' problems. One example of this phenomenon comes to us from the Bronx, where the landlord so severely neglected his responsibilities that a judge in the city's housing court actually sentenced him to a month behind bars -- an almost unheard-of sentence in housing court.

Visitor to Bronx apartment hurt when staircase collapses

People in New York need to know that their apartment buildings are safe for them to live in. Everyone knows how expensive it can be to live here, and if a residential building is dangerous, it can make a bad situation for tenants even worse. Fortunately, many dangerous situations are never fully realized, but a recent accident at a Bronx apartment building shows what can happen when things go wrong.

The incident took place in an apartment building on East 166th Street. A staircase inside the building collapsed and injured a 20-year-old man, who was in the building to visit his sister. The man fell from the second floor down to the first floor through the stairwell. His injuries were not thought to be severe; however, as a result of the accident involving the faulty stairs, the building was evacuated.

Frost in apartments leads residents to file class-action lawsuit

New Yorkers who live in rented apartments are entitled to have certain expectations about their living situation. One of these expectations is that their apartment is habitable in the wintertime. This winter was a particularly difficult one for people in the Northeast and around much of the country, with excessive snowfall and bitter cold dominating the weather for months.

It's with this in mind that several residents of an apartment building in Battery Park City have filed a lawsuit against the landlords and developers of their building. The tenants are seeking compensation because they say their units are so poorly built that frost accumulated on the inside of their apartments over the winter.

Midtown Manhattan construction worker falls to his death

It's no secret that construction is a dangerous line of work. Even the most careful employees can suffer an accident, often through no fault of their own. With the large number of projects going on in Manhattan at any given time, and due to the tight spaces that they have to contend with, construction workers in New York face an especially difficult task to complete the jobs they've been assigned.

Last week in Manhattan, a worker fell eight stories to his death due to an apparent scaffold fall. Apparently, some planks of the scaffold had been removed, and the worker fell about 80 feet to another scaffold, directly above the building's main entrance. The accident was witnessed by several people who could see the building, the Dream Hotel, from their vantage points in neighboring buildings.

Safety of communication towers around country in question

Communication towers are mainstays around the country. People in New York and everywhere around the U.S. expect to have a strong, reliable cellphone signal all the time, and as a result, communication towers -- which rise hundreds of feet in the air -- are in demand. That means that workers are needed to maintain and construct these towers. Unfortunately, this work can be quite dangerous.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a warning to the industry recently, indicating that several workers had been hurt by falling items, collapsing towers and other dangerous conditions at communication tower sites. In fact, last year there were 13 workers around the country who died in accidents at communication towers. That's more than the total number of fatalities from 2011 and 2012 combined.

Disabled woman files lawsuit over New York apartment injury

We have written frequently in the past on our New York premises liability blog about how dangerous conditions in apartments can lead to tenant injuries. While it might seem unusual that someone could suffer an apartment injury because her domicile was too big -- rather than being too small, poorly lit or in bad condition -- but that's just what a Brooklyn woman is claiming.

As a result of an injury she suffered from a fall in her Coney Island apartment, the woman is suing the New York City Housing Authority for $1 million. The woman is disabled and lives in a three-bedroom, two-floor apartment, which she says is too large for her. Every year for the last decade, the woman says she has completed a form sent to her by NYCHA that would have enabled her to move to a smaller unit. However, she says she never heard back from the agency.

Young girl falls into shaft of out-of-service apartment elevator

A young girl was listed in serious condition after falling into a New York City apartment building elevator shaft.  Members of the fire department had to pry open the basement elevator doors to rescue her.  She then had to be hoisted up in a basket to free her from the shaft.

The March 21 accident occurred in SoHo. It is not known if the girl was a resident of the apartment.  However, it has been reported that the elevator was out of service at the time the accident occurred.

Family still reeling, a year after crash killed father and son

It goes without saying that being in a serious car accident is one of the worst things that can happen to a family in New York. Injuries can linger for a long time among the survivors, who may be lucky to survive the accident at all. If it turns out that the accident may have been caused by another driver who was overserved at one or more drinking establishments, sorrow can easily turn to anger.

New York does have tavern liability laws in place -- laws that allow third-party victims of drunk driving accidents to sue the bar, restaurant or tavern that overserved a patron involved if that patron was visibly intoxicated prior to the accident. These cases are especially important for families who have long-term effects as a result of being in such an accident.

Could landlords be deliberately sabotaging their properties?

It's not an exaggeration to say that New Yorkers who rent apartments place a great deal of trust, out of necessity, in their landlords. After all, tenants depend on landlords to make sure that their apartment buildings are well-maintained and safe. Faulty stairs, tears in carpeting, the presence of lead paint, poor lighting, and failure to remove ice and snow from sidewalks are all examples of landlord negligence that could lead to apartment accidents.

Most of the time, these sorts of situations are just that: negligence. A landlord might not tear the carpet himself, but if he knows about torn carpet in the hallway of a building and then a tenant trips and falls on it, that landlord could be determined to be negligent.

New York City construction injuries up, but fatalities drop

As we have often discussed on our New York premises liability blog, having a job in the construction industry is often dangerous work. Due to the heavy machinery in use and the heights at which many workers must do their jobs, injuries from scaffold falls or other catastrophic events can be serious and lead to a lifetime of medical bills and rehabilitation expenses.

For 2013, the news on construction accidents in the city was mixed. While there were fewer fatalities last year than there were the year before, the total number of accidents went up, as did the number of injuries from those accidents.

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