Premises Liability: Fifteen Minutes and a Few Dollars

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Fifteen minutes and a few dollars. That’s all it would have taken to save the life of Francisca Fernandez. Fernandez was visiting family in Inwood, New York on May 22nd when she tripped on the stairs and fell to her death through a fifth story window.

A full investigation is still underway, but the family has made clear what they consider to be the major contributing factor to Fernandez’s death. The window in question had absolutely no safety precautions in place. Some safety precautions could have included:

  • Safety glass that would have absorbed the impact from Fernandez without breaking
  • A guard rail in front of the window that Fernandez would have struck first
  • A stronger window frame with cross beams that a person could not squeeze through

Though safety glass can be expensive, a guard rail wouldn’t have cost much and could have been easily installed. The management of the apartment complex had to know the risk of having large, easily broken windows on the landings of the stairwell. Yet they did nothing.

Apartment complexes have a legal responsibility to make their premises safe, a legal responsibility that is neglected too often. Many rental managers try to do the bare minimum and hope that no one complains. Sadly, the bare minimum results in injuries and deaths.

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed due to negligence on the part of a property owner, please contact a qualified attorney. Had someone spoken up and forced this particular owner to put safety first, Francisca Fernandez would likely still be with us.