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New Yorkers reminded of dangers posed by city's high-rise buildings

According to New York City's Department of City Planning, as of 2014, the city boasted a population of nearly 8.5 million. Located on a small island, city planners and developers have been forced to build up to accommodate the millions who call one of the city's five boroughs home.

While the city is in the midst of a building boom with 30 percent more building permits being issued since 2010, the city agency tasked with inspecting and ensuring that the city's buildings are safe has cut its workforce by 20 percent. Consequently, there is growing concern among many about the safety and structural soundness of both new and existing high-rise buildings.

The dangers associated with failing to properly maintain some of the city's older buildings recently came to light when a two-year-old girl was killed. Earlier this month, a 60-year-old grandmother and her two-year-old granddaughter were sitting outside a luxury high-rise "home for older adults" when a portion of the building’s brick facade crumbled and fell striking the girl.

The toddler was rushed to a nearby hospital where she underwent emergency surgery. Sadly, she died the following day from the severe head injuries she suffered in the accident.

In the wake of the accident, the building's owner was issued "an administrative code violation" by the city's Buildings Department. The violation related to the owner's "failure to maintain the property in a safe and code compliant manner."

Building owners in New York City bear a great responsibility to not only ensure that the interiors of buildings are safe and free of known hazards, but also that the outside structures and facades are properly constructed and maintained. In cases where an individual suffers injuries due to a building owner's failure to maintain a safe premise, legal action may be warranted.

Source: The New York Times, "Girl, 2, Dies After Being Hit by Falling Facade in Manhattan," Al Baker, May 17, 2015

Crain's New York Business, "Building-site safety is everyone's business," Lou Coletti, May 24, 2015

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