Ceiling Collapse Warning Signs to Look Out for in NY

Lever & Ecker, PLLC June 30, 2022 Personal injury

New York, and New York City in particular, boasts some of the most impressive examples of modern and historical architecture anywhere in the world.  Unfortunately, however, many of New York’s older buildings – both commercial and residential – are in some state of disrepair, with some of those buildings having ceilings that pose a danger of collapse to those living or working inside them.

Victims of collapsed ceilings often sustain serious injuries that turn their lives upside down in an instant and require extensive treatment and rehabilitation as part of the healing and recovery process. As a result, victims of ceiling collapse accidents may be entitled to substantial compensation for their injuries and other damages.

Signs of a Potential Ceiling Collapse

Ceilings do not just collapse overnight. Instead, these incidents almost always follow a pattern of events that have been ignored by the landlord, building owner, contractor, or property management company for a long time. These include:

Sagging Ceiling or Plasterboard

Sagging ceilings are among the most dangerous signs of an impending ceiling collapse, as they usually indicate that a ceiling or roof lacks the necessary supporting structures, whether undersized frames or load-bearing beams. A common sign of many sagging ceilings is bulging circles or blisters in a straight line across the roof. In such cases, the joints are almost always pulled apart.

Watermarks and Discoloration

Circles of discoloration on the ceiling mean there is a plumbing leak that drips through the ceiling and evaporates, leaving a patch of mineral deposits. Over time, leaks dampen and weaken the ceiling surface, causing a ceiling collapse.

Cracking Noises From the Building

Cracking noises are another common sign that a ceiling is close to collapsing, especially if the noises are loud and repetitive. This noise should be reported for appropriate action, including advice on whether to vacate the premises.

Peeled Out Surfaces

Peeled-out sections and small pinpoint holes on the ceiling indicate there might be a termite infestation. Drywood termites living inside the ceiling damage the integrity of the wooden structures, leaving the ceiling susceptible to collapse.

Types of Injuries Sustained From Ceiling Collapses

When a ceiling falls, the injuries to those involved tend to be significant and painful. Some of the common injuries New Yorkers face in the event of a ceiling collapse include:

Brain Injuries

The head region is the most exposed during a ceiling collapse, as much of the impact comes from above. As such, severe brain injuries resulting from torn tissues, bruising, and internal bleeding are very common after a collapse. Such injuries almost always require a long time and significant rehabilitation to heal.

Spinal Cord Damage

The spinal cord runs from the abdomen up to the neck region, so it is the next most exposed part of the body during a ceiling collapse. Victims of spinal cord damage often experience lifelong problems, including bowel impairment, breathing problems, and loss of use and control of the hands, legs, and fingers, with permanent disability also a possibility.

Broken Bones and Fractures

If a victim of a ceiling collapse is able to avoid a spinal cord or brain injury, they may still experience broken bones and fractures. These injuries may also require surgeries that can take an extensive amount of time from which to heal. 

Internal Injuries

Ceiling collapse victims may also suffer internal injuries. Internal injuries to vital organs, such as the heart, liver, or kidney, may cause severe internal bleeding or other life-threatening problems. 


Ceiling collapse victims may also suffer from deep cuts, tears, or gashes when falling wood, metals, rocks, or glass contact with fragile skin. Lacerations in specific areas such as the scalp are often dangerous due to possibly uncontrolled bleeding, requiring immediate medical attention.

Compensation for Ceiling Collapse Victims in New York

After a ceiling collapse, it is essential to collect as much evidence as possible of the accident, including:

  • Images of the ceiling
  • Images of damaged belongings
  • Images of surrounding damage 
  • Images or videos of the ceiling before the collapse
  • Building permits
  • Lost wages 
  • Medical bills and records
  • Journals documenting pain and suffering
  • Documents showing you raised a complaint about the issue to the appropriate authorities
  • Requests for repairs
  • Repair invoices

Victims who successfully present their claims for compensation in a court of law stand to receive damages for:

  • Pain and suffering: This is compensation for the injuries suffered in the accident, including surgeries if applicable, plus the emotional distress caused by the accident and injuries.
  • Lost wages: Income lost for the time a victim is out of work or any other potential earning limitations caused by the injury.
  • Cost of moving: The costs of moving permanently or living in another space while repairs are being done.
  • Disability: If an injury leads to the permanent disability of victims, they are entitled to compensation for the disability, especially if it limits their ability to work.
  • Disfigurement: Compensation for any blemishes or permanent harm caused to a victim’s appearance by the accident.
  • Medical expenses: Cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation, including transport to and from the hospital.
  • Property damage: Expenses for damage to the victim’s personal belongings from a ceiling collapse.

Contact a New York premises liability lawyer to discuss these areas of damages.

Why a New York Attorney Is Crucial to Winning Premises Liability Cases

While ceiling collapse claims may seem like straightforward cases to win, the building owners’ insurance companies and lawyers will do everything they can to protect the owners and limit their liability, or fault, for the accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer understands this, and how to protect the interests of their clients against the owners, landlords and management companies. 

At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, our award-winning attorneys have over 65 years of combined experience and may be able to help you obtain and present the necessary evidence against the at-fault party, to obtain maximum possible compensation. Additionally, insurance companies will know that their typical tricks of the trade won’t work while our attorneys are by your side. 

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a New York City ceiling collapse, we may be able to help you mount a solid case against the property owner or manager. Contact us at (914) 288-9191 or (718) 933-3632 for an appointment or fill out this contact form with details of your case, and one of our attorneys will get back to you.