Beware of Ice Falling from NYC Glass Buildings

The New York Times recently published a timely warning about the potential for ice to fall from NYC buildings and injure pedestrians.

On December 22, New York police closed three blocks of Central Park South to cars and pedestrians as ice fell from towers and crashed to the ground and into the park, The Times reported. The Wednesday before that, a piece of ice fell from a tower under construction in Midtown and struck a 55-year-old man in the face, cutting his mouth and lips.

“Ice can form on pretty much any New York City building, from low-rise tenements to luxury high rises. Railings, rooftops, ledges and even windows provide surface area for drops of cold water to transform into ice,” the newspaper reported. “But the threat is greater today because of a surge in new, angular towers that reach soaring heights and are built from materials like glass and steel that actually promote more ice growth.” Ice also forms more easily on energy efficient buildings because they retain heat that otherwise could melt ice.

“Then, when the sun appears, the surface below the ice heats up, allowing the ice to release” and plummet toward whomever or whatever is below.

It happens all too frequently, and people do get seriously hurt:

  • A 24-year-old Flushing woman was struck by a jagged chunk of ice that fell from the roof of the 21-story Pennsylvania Hotel in Manhattan in 1994 and her survival was called “a miracle.”
  • 27-year-old man was struck in the face by a chunk of ice that fell from the Plaza Arcade building on West 48th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues in 2014 and needed 80 stitches to close the wound.

Falling ice also can cause property damage, as The Times explains in the tale of Coltrane Nadler, who in January 2018 watched “a brown chunk of ice fall from the sky and slam into his parked Chevy Equinox. Windows exploded and the back of the roof crumbled.”

Accountability When Falling Ice Causes Injury and Damage

Spears of falling ice in the City can cause severe injuries to pedestrians.

As Manhattan premises liability lawyer David Resnick can explain more fully, a building’s owner may be held liable for injuries and/or property damage caused by falling ice.

In general, property owners have a responsibility to guests or neighbors to keep their property safe. A property owner can be held liable for compensation to the injured if he or she fails to maintain reasonably safe conditions or adequately warn visitors or passersby of any potential hazards and an injury results. If there is a dangerous condition that the property owner disregarded or failed to fix, the property owner may be liable for your injuries.

The Administrative Code of the City of New York, under §28-301.1, makes property owners legally obligated “at all times” to maintain their properties in a safe condition.

The NYC Department of Buildings regularly reminds property owners of their obligation to take precautionary steps during snow and ice melt conditions, such as in a news release dated December 18, 2019. It says:

During melting snow and ice conditions, the Department is reminding all builders, contractors, and property owners to secure their properties from hazardous conditions. Falling icicles and snow masses from buildings can be dangerous in a dense city such as New York, and can injure pedestrians, damage vehicles, and disrupt transportation if streets must be closed for safety reasons.

If sites are not safely secured, the Department will take enforcement action with the issuance of violations if necessary.

The Department suggests consulting a professional to advise how to secure construction sites and buildings if necessary.

The City’s instructions also advise that building owners should take all precautionary measures, including:

  • “Secure and clear roofs, awnings, umbrellas and overhangs of melting snow and ice.
  • “Remove ice and snow from tree limbs and other structures.
  • “Ensure gutters are clear of debris to allow drainage.”

Furthermore, if ice develops and poses a hazard to the public, building owners should take precautions to protect the surrounding area.

The point is that NYC property owners’ obligations and the steps they should take to meet them to prevent injuries from falling ice are clear.

New Yorkers should phone 911 in emergency conditions or 311, the City’s helpline, to report an impending danger.

Contact a NYC Premises Liability Lawyer

If you have been injured by falling ice, talk to a knowledgeable Manhattan injury lawyer at David Resnick & Associates about whether you have a valid injury claim.

A premises liability lawsuit seeking damages from a property owner after an injury caused by falling ice or anything else that fell from a building would have to prove three points:

  • The property owner was “negligent,” which means that the property owner breached the legal duty owed to the injured individual.
  • There is causation, meaning that the property owner’s specific failure to act caused the injuries.
  • The injuries caused substantial compensable damages, or losses that can be made better with compensation to the injured.

Such a claim typically seeks compensation for all medical expenses, lost income and possibly property damage, as well as compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and inconvenience.

The experienced premises liability lawyers of David Resnick & Associates in New York City can move promptly to investigate the circumstances of your injury and work to establish a link between the harm you have suffered and the negligent conditions that caused them.

Contact our firm to talk directly to attorney David Resnick, an experienced New York premises liability lawyer, about your situation. If we can be of help, we will handle your claim on a contingency fee basis. Contact us for a free initial legal consultation today. We do not charge a fee unless we win compensation for you.

Author: David Resnick

Founder of David Resnick & Associates, P.C., a New York personal injury law firm in charge of providing exceptional and personal service to each of our clients in various areas including car accidents, slip and fall, wrongful death, construction accidents, and premises liability. David Resnick founded the firm in 1998 after working in large law firms where he saw a need for greater client communication and more personal care.

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