When people think about ceiling collapses, they generally think of old buildings that are in bad repair. However, that is not always the case any building can be subject to a ceiling collapsed incident especially in the aftermath of a bad storm or natural disaster.
When you are renting an apartment or home it is critically important to be aware of the warning signs in the ceiling collapse so that you can make your landlord aware of the problem early and hopefully prevent such a thing from occurring.
Your Rights and Responsibilities as A Tenant
Under New York law and particularly in New York City as a tenant, you have the right to live in a well-maintained building that is free of leaks, pests, and other hazardous conditions. Landlords are also required to make repairs in a reasonable timeframe after they are notified. Therefore, as a tenant, you have the responsibility to be aware of the condition of your home or apartment and ensure that you promptly alert the landlord to any necessary repairs. You must also allow your landlord into your apartment to investigate the situation and make the necessary repairs either immediately if it is an emergency situation such as a major leak or within a reasonable time given proper notice if the repair is not an emergency. In New York City these rights and responsibilities are governed by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
What Is Premises Liability?
In addition to these rights as a tenant under New York law, landlords are responsible for the maintenance and safety of their buildings under a legal principle known as premises liability. Premises liability requires that landlords use reasonable care to check the state with their properties and do maintenance when necessary to keep the building in good repair and safe for occupancy.
Common Causes of Ceiling Collapse
Although landlords are required to maintain their buildings both under the principle of premises liability and more specifically and stringently under New York law, some landlords will still attempt to save money by cutting corners. Therefore, some of the most common causes of ceiling collapse are:
- Negligent inspection or maintenance of the property
- Using substandard building materials
- Painting over water spots in the ceiling rather than repair the damage
- Shoddy repairs
- Failure to comply with building codes
- Negligence by contractors hired to do the repairs
Warning Signs of a Ceiling Collapse
Ceiling collapses generally do not happen without warning though the warning signs may be misleading or easy to miss. It is therefore your responsibility as a tenant to be cognizant of potential warning signs and make your landlord aware as soon as possible. Common signs that a ceiling collapse may occur include:
- Sagging or damaged portions of the roof are noticeable from the outside. Missing or torn roof shingles can also be a good indication.
- Strange groaning, cracking, or popping noises in the ceiling as well as an unexplained dripping noise like a leaking faucet particularly when it is not raining outside
- Water sports on the ceiling or obvious signs of a leak such as water pooling on the floor or trickling down the walls inside the home or apartment
It is especially important for tenants to be aware of these warning signs and on the lookout for them after major storms such as hurricanes to ensure that any warning signs are caught early and reported even in generally well-maintained homes or apartment buildings.
What Are Common Injuries Can Result from Ceiling Collapses?
Some of the most common injuries seen after a ceiling collapse can include:
- Cuts, bruises, and abrasions caused by being struck by following ceiling parts or debris
- Spinal cord injuries caused by being struck by and/or trapped underneath fallen debris. These injuries can be life-threatening and life-changing and can lead to permanent issues with walking, chronic pain, using your arms and hands, or even paralysis of one or more limbs.
- Broken or fractured bones
- Traumatic Brain Injuries. A traumatic brain injury or TBI is caused by swelling in the brain bruising of the brain or some other severe injury to the brain that causes permanent damage and can lead to speech impediments, loss of cognitive function, memory problems, and in some cases even death. In cases involving ceiling collapses, traumatic brain injuries occur most often when a person is struck by falling debris and is knocked unconscious.
- The development or worsening of lung conditions due to dust and debris released by the ceiling collapse. This is especially worrisome in older buildings which may contain hazardous materials such as asbestos
What To Do If Your Landlord Is Slow to Make Repairs or Does Not Make the Necessary Repairs
Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, landlords have been slow to investigate maintenance requests and make the necessary repairs. This problem can be exacerbated greatly if you live in a large apartment complex with many tenants and buildings to maintain. In some cases in an attempt to save money, landlords will even completely ignore maintenance requests by tenants vertically if the repairs could be costly.
It is critical that you keep a written log of all repair requests you make to your landlord. This log should include the date and time the request was made, the method that the request was made (by phone, by email, through a resident portal, or by letter) if the landlord responded, and the date and time at which the landlord showed up to investigate and/or make repairs per your request. This written record will be particularly useful if your landlord is slow making repairs or refuses to make repairs resulting in a ceiling collapsed incident as it will serve as a record that your landlord was on notice of the problem and did not properly address it. Your premises liability lawyer will be able to use this as evidence in your favor in court.
Can A Premises Liability Lawyer Help You with Your Case?
When making a premises liability case your lawyer must prove that your landlord had a duty of care toward you and breached that duty causing the damage in this case the ceiling collapse and your subsequent injuries. While every case is different and results are never guaranteed a premises liability lawyer will be able to look at your records and any other complaints made against the landlord to help prove your case.
Contact us for a free consultation. Call (888) 998-7165 or tell us about your case using our online form above. We will review your case for free.