Getting a Recovery for Injuries from Windstorm Damage–Fallen Trees, Fallen Signs, and Flying Debris


Yesterday New York had gusts up to 65 mph which left behind 3 deaths, bodily injuries to innocent people, and property damage.  See New York Daily News story here.  The high winds caused airport delays and bridge closures.

If you have been injured due to high winds, please call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434.

Yesterday’s wind storms caused the following fatalities:

  • a Staten Island construction worker was buried under a wall which collapsed;
  • a driver died when a tree branch hit her windshield; and
  • a woman was killed when a large tree branch hit her in the head when she left a supermarket. 

Also, people sustained personal injuries.  For example, a Brooklyn man’s leg was fractured when a tree branch fell on him.

Heavy winds can wreck the following damage: 

  • uprooting trees and tearing-off tree branches;
  • knocking-down walls, sidewalk bridges, scaffolds, and ladders and blowing tools from work sites; this is a danger where construction devices and tools have not been secured;
  • detaching store signs and billboards;
  • blowing loose flower pots and furniture from backyards, patios, and terraces.

In order to recover for injuries it is not enough to prove that there were great winds and an injury.  We must prove negligence against defendant.  In other words, we must show that defendant could have prevented the accident if he had taken reasonable precautions, such as tying-down ladders, taking-in flowerpots, and securing a loose sign.  This rule is called “notice” in that defendant must have had “notice” of a dangerous condition and could have taken reasonable steps to correct the danger.

These cases illustrate the concept of “notice”:

  • Rita was coming home from work, and she was struck by a building sign which had been blown-off a store in the same manner as illustrated above.  She sustained a fractured leg.  We were able to show that the store did not make regular inspections of its sign.  Also, there was rust at the sign’s anchoring points to the building, and this was evidence of poor maintenance.
  • Samuel’s car was left in his driveway, but through no fault of his own it became a total loss.  The neighbor’s tree branches, which were overhanging onto Sam’s property, got torn from the tree due to high winds.  We were able to show that the tree had been overhanging onto Sam’s driveway, that Sam made complaints to the neighbor, and the neighbor failed to prune the tree.
  • Sally was struck by a monkey wrench when she passed a construction site.  The wrench was left unsecured at a construction site.  The contractor failed to secure his tools in a windstorm, such as placing them in a tool cabinet.  In this case the contractor should have known that a wrench lying on a girder in a strong wind would fall and hurt a pedestrian.

As with most accident cases, early investigation at the site is the key to victory.  You should hire an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

If you have been injured from a windstorm please feel free to call me at 800-581-1434 for a free consultaion.

Mark E. Seitelman, 2/13/09, www.seitelman.com.

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