A tourist from the United Kingdom received an unwelcome and dangerous surprise when she suffered head injuries after an object fell out of the sky and crashed into her earlier this month in Tribeca. The debris fell off a residential building in an accident that the Department of Buildings said was preventable.
The tourist was walking with her husband on Park Place near Church Street around 5:00 pm in heavy rains and wind. A long hammock with a wooden base fell off the building and knocked her onto the ground. A witness heard a loud bang and believed that the victim suffered injuries to her shoulders or elbows. An ambulance transported her to NYC Heath and Hospitals/Bellevue.
The Office of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service usually provides weather alerts to the Department of Buildings when winds are expected to exceed 30 mph. The DOB then notifies building owners to assure that all furniture and other objects are secure.
No alert was issued the day of this accident. Wind reports for that day were expected to be less than 30 mph. However, these forecasts may not be entirely accurate in New York and other large urban areas because buildings can cause a tunneling effect which increases wind speeds.
On the day of this accident, according to a DOB representative, wind tunneling effects were going around different areas in New York. When this occurs, building owners should still take precautions because they may not be available to secure furniture and other items that are outside.
Nonetheless, the DOB said that building owners have the legal responsibility of ensuring that all building tenants take precautions to make certain that the public is not endangered by falling objects. Fines of $10,000 to $25,000 can be imposed upon them for not taking these precautions.
Building owners may face a premises liability lawsuit for failure to fix dangerous property conditions and not taking reasonable steps to assure that the public is not harmed. A lawyer can help victims pursue their right to compensation for injuries from the negligence of property owners.
Source: CBS New York, “Buildings Department Says Tribeca Falling Hammock Accident Was Preventable,” April 26, 2017