In February of this year shoppers and employees alike at a CVS pharmacy were evacuated after heavy snow caused a roof collapse in the Bronx. Eyewitnesses report that just moments before portions of the ceiling were crumbling and falling inside the store. The building was so damaged it was declared unsalvageable and was later demolished.
Owners of retail outlets (whether chain stores or mom and pop locations) have a obligation to protect those they invite into their stores. Mostly we think of this as keeping aisles and walkways clear, entryways free of debris, and equipment (such as handicap ramps and automatic doors) in good operating condition. However, inspecting the building itself for signs of wear, damage, or potential catastrophic failure is also an owner’s responsibility. If such damage leads to an accident, injured individuals are often entitled to financial compensation.
This particular ceiling collapse in the Bronx was partially due to faults in its design, according to FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief James Daly. The ceiling (and roof above) was built with no support columns to maximize floor space. This left the roof unable to bear the weight of accumulated snow and melt water. These types of ceilings are referred to as “firefighter killers,” according to Daly, because they can collapse at a moment’s notice-especially when put under extreme stress or improperly maintained over time.
While no one was injured this time, objects falling from overhead (including roofs, ceilings, and shelving) send dozens of New Yorkers to hospitals around the city every year. Indeed, earlier this month eight people were injured when shelving units collapsed at a discount store in the Bronx. Such injuries can be very serious because they often involve blows to the head or limbs.
officials are wondering just how many public buildings are covered by roofs that are now unsafe. Water damage, stress fractures, and other structural issues could very well lead to catastrophic failures and ceiling collapse in New York City this spring and summer. If your or a loved one are injured in such an accident, contact an attorney immediately to discuss your legal options. Call the law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel at 646-736-2777 or 212-385-1122 for a free consultation to learn your rights.