With wintertime quickly approaching, New Yorkers are on the verge of having to deal with snow and ice. Shopowners, especially those whose stores have flat roofs, must be certain their buildings can withstand the ravages of inclement weather.
Wet snow is heavier than you may expect. During heavy snowfall, a building’s roof may sag, droop or break. Likewise, freezing and thawing ice may weaken a shop’s roof and ceiling. Eventually, a ceiling collapse may leave you with catastrophic injuries.
A duty of care
All shopowners have a legal obligation to provide a reasonably safe place for their customers to shop. Often, this includes mopping up spills and posting warning signs. Still, the store’s owner should regularly inspect the building for signs of roof damage. If the owner fails to do so, he or she may be legally responsible for any injuries you sustain during a collapse.
While many store owners have comprehensive insurance policies to cover possible injuries to customers, others may have shallower pockets. If you sustain a serious injury in a ceiling collapse, it may be beneficial to consider whether a third party bears some responsibility for the accident. These third parties may include one or more of the following:
- The builder
- The inspector
- The roofing contractor
- The maintenance company
Your path forward
As an ordinary New Yorker, it is probably impossible for you to determine whether a building’s ceiling is structural sound. Because you may not know when to avoid the store, you count on others to take reasonable steps to keep you safe. Put simply, an owner may have to close up shop during cold spells or wet snowfalls until a professional can inspect the store’s roof.
Ultimately, if someone’s negligence causes you to suffer a life-altering injury in a ceiling collapse, you may be eligible for considerable financial compensation to help you pay medical bills and move on with your life.