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Building Inspection Regulations, Safety, and Wrongful Death

Earlier this year, a windowsill that crumbled on a building ended up falling onto the street and killing a two-year-old little girl. After six months of investigating, officials announced on November 17th that the accident originated from one engineer’s negligence, specifically, his failure to follow required protocols that correlate with basic public safety rules. Upon realizing this, investigators also realized that hundreds of buildings across New York city currently faced inspection issues that could put members of the public in danger. Yet, this issue is not limited to New York by any means.

City/County Regulations

Each city (and often county, via its own ordinance) has its own rules pursuant to inspecting building facades, often requiring inspections every set number of years, depending upon how tall the building is. Florida is no different; management companies must have exteriors of certain buildings undergo inspections by qualified engineers. By doing so, they check for signs of serious damage, including identifying concerns that could threaten lives and safety. Engineers should be licensed by the State of Florida, specifically, and each county has its own provisions and inspection criteria. Ultimately, associations are responsible for preserve condominiums and association property.

In New York, where this particular incident took place, investigators found that approximately 1,000 buildings had failed to file the mandated inspection reports. In addition, some (like the one that caused the child’s death) had a report filed deeming the building safe, but investigators later found that the engineer who had filed the inspection report hadn’t even visited the site, which violates the city’s regulation. The engineer who ultimately signs the inspection report is responsible for resigning and overseeing the entire inspection.

However, can all the blame be placed on the engineer? Over a year before the unfortunate incident, a consultant who was inspecting a building next door contacted the Buildings Department to report that the building had a potentially dangerous crack and that someone should check it out, but no one followed up with an inspection. Also involved are the owners of the building and the contractor that hired the engineer.

Sadly, this has happened in Florida as well: an association and management company were both recently held liable for the wrongful death of a child after failing to ensure that the property’s shrubs were maintained at the proper height accordance with local codes. In a separate case, failure to comply with local laws led to a fire which placed many lives in danger.

Negligence & Other Claims

When incidents like these occur, bringing a lawsuit alleging negligence is a way of getting stricter, better enforced regulations in place to ensure that buildings are properly inspected and repairs made. In Florida, if buildings wait too long for inspections and/or routine maintenance, a construction defect lawsuit can arise due to a specific failure to maintain. In addition to destruction of property, these failures can also lead to personal injury claims.

Contact a Skilled Attorney for Help

If you have been injured due to a defective inspection or improper maintenance of a building, contact Clearwater attorney Mike Walker today for a free consultation on your case. Help is only one phone call away.

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