In 2015 Olegario Pabon, then 84 years old, died in an elevator accident at the Boston Road Plaza in the Bronx. It is now being alleged that the accident might not have taken place if the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) had provided sufficient information about the status of the elevator in the building.
It has been revealed that a malfunction in the elevator car had been reported to officials in the Bronx public housing complex 90 minutes before the 84-year-old fell and was killed, but it should have been closed down for public use before the accident happened.
At least 400,000 New York citizens live in public housing administered by the NYCHA. They would expect that all elevators should be safe to use and, in the event of a dangerous malfunction, should be closed down until repaired. The DOI Commissioner who investigated the accident said that all the right protocols should be followed in these sorts of situations so that the building’s users are not put in danger. In this case compliance was not forthcoming.
The elevator car started to move upwards after Pabon attempted to step into it, resulting in his hand and leg getting trapped. He fell down, causing serious injuries that led to his death three days later. The communication was so poor that NYCHA’s senior leaders did not hear about the accident until four days had passed.
The DOI stated that the elevator accident that resulted in Pabon’s death and a second nonfatal accident where a man was stuck in an elevator for 60 minutes because his foot had got caught could have both been prevented if malfunctioning failsafe brake monitors had been working or if the NYCHA had withdrawn the defective elevators from service until they were fixed.
During the investigation, the DOI found weaknesses in the way the NYCHA handled elevator problems related to the 3,000 elevators in public housing citywide. Of 14 recommendations initiated by the DOI, one suggested an increase in elevator inspections, and a second was related to improvements in staff training.
Meanwhile, Pabon’s family may have the legal right to file a wrongful death claim against the NYCHA, as the fatality was not his fault. If the NYCHA had followed the right protocols, he may have been still around today. A wrongful death claim is one way the family may not only be compensated for any medical costs before their loved one’s death and the funeral costs too, but they can be awarded further compensation for the loss of companionship and for the pain and suffering that has taken place due to his death. If the NYCHA can be proved to have acted egregiously, punitive damages may be able to be claimed as well.
In the case of filing a wrongful death claim against a government entity such as the NYCHA, the statute of limitations is shorter than if suing a business or a private individual. In New York State, a person is given a period of 90 days to file a claim, and one year and 90 days to file a lawsuit. This means that it is wise to contact an experienced New York City premise liability like Richard S. Jaffe Esq. as soon as possible after the death has taken place so that he can decide if you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim for the loss of your loved one.
You can contact him for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.