According to the New York City Health Department, any apartment building in which children age 10 and under are residing must have protective bars or guards on the windows in the common areas, such as the stairwells. On Thursday, May 21, there was no protective guard on the window of the fifth floor landing of an apartment building in upper Manhattan. A 67-year-old woman fell out of that window after a slip and fall on the stairs.
At approximately 8:30 p.m., the woman, who was visiting family, fell down the stairs, crashed through the window and fell five stories to the street below. She suffered severe injuries in the fall that turned out to be fatal. Protective bars were installed on the window later, but not before the family had the presence of mind to take a picture of the broken window — without any protective guards.
New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development reported that it had no complaints or code violations against the apartment building regarding the windows on its landings. Even so, that does not mean the owner of the building is released from any liability in the woman’s death. The building’s owner and management is responsible for ensuring the safety of the residents and other invitees.
The family of the victim retains the right to file a premises liability claim in connection with her slip and fall and subsequent fall from the window. If the family prevails in establishing that the owner and/or management of the apartment building breached its duty of care to their loved one, the court may consider awarding them damages. Not only could they receive restitution for their losses but they could also help prevent anyone else from being hurt in a similar manner.