Construction workers stand in rubble of building collapse. | Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi

Can Buildings Collapse?

Unfortunately, the answer to “Can buildings collapse?” is yes. And when they do, the injuries to the people involved can be devastating.

We inherently trust that the foundations of the buildings we work in or walk by will hold up. The thought that they could collapse around us is unfathomable to most. Hundreds—maybe even thousands—of people are involved in making these structures safe, yet building collapses still happen.

The question isn’t really, “Can buildings collapse.” It should be, “What do I do after a building collapse?” If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a building collapse, contact a New York construction collapse lawyer as soon as possible for guidance.

Call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today at (212) 543-1600 to schedule a FREE consultation. What you have suffered is unimaginable, and justice must be served. We want to make sure you are pursuing every path to compensation for your damages. It can’t change what’s happened, but financial support can aid you as you heal.

Is It Rare for a Building To Collapse?

Fortunately, it is rare for buildings to collapse after construction without the added stress of some sort of external force. Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods can cause severe damage to structures. Outside of those, the majority of buildings will stand or show signs of trouble long before they become dangerous.

However, partial and complete collapses are much more common during construction. Construction workers, therefore, need to know their rights and how to get help defending them should they become injured in a collapse.

What Causes a Building To Collapse?

Buildings collapse when structural elements fail, causing the building to fall either inward or outward. Inward collapses create dense debris fields, while outward collapses result in wider, scattered debris.

In developed countries with strict regulations, building collapses are rare. When they do occur, it is difficult to tie it to only one issue. There is typically more than one factor at play.

Under what circumstances can buildings collapse?

  • Weak or damaged foundation
  • Faulty construction
  • Poor quality building materials
  • Corrosion and deterioration of materials
  • Natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.)
  • Construction activity without proper safety measures or permits
  • Unauthorized changes or deviations from blueprints
  • Failure to comply with building codes
  • Load or structural strength not tested or underestimated

Read More: What Is a Structure Failure?

What Are the Warning Signs of a Building Collapse?

Unless you are a professional, it would be difficult to discern the signs that a building collapse is imminent. However, the more attention we have on the state of the structures we are working on or inhabiting, the better the chances of spotting an issue before it becomes a disaster.

The following are possible warning signs of a building collapse in an existing building:

  • Cracked or crumbling concrete
  • Interior cracks in walls or floors
  • Uneven or bowing walls or floors
  • Diagonal cracks at the corners of windows or doors
  • Door and windows that stick
  • Wall rotation
  • Cracks on stairs (interior or exterior)
  • Gaps between walls and the ceiling or floor
  • Popping sounds from roof trusses
  • Porches or chimneys separating from the building
  • Cracked or out-of-place molding
  • Cabinets or doors that swing open unexpectedly
  • Water intrusion in the basement
  • Signs of rebar corrosion and spalling of concrete

Amid the cacophony of sounds and smells that permeate a construction site, it can be difficult to discern the dangers. However, here are some things to look out for on a construction site that could warn of a possible collapse or just a generally dangerous situation:

  • Creaking, crackling, or popping sounds
  • Rumbling or shaking of the structure
  • Cracked or crumbling concrete
  • Sloped or bouncy floors
  • Visibly wobbly or unstable structures (e.g., scaffold collapses)
  • Bulging walls
  • Inadequate safety gear
  • Insufficient worker training

Can Buildings Collapse Without Warning?

We’ve discussed some warning signs of a collapse, but can buildings collapse unexpectedly? Yes, they can, especially during construction or renovation. The risk of partial or complete collapse is highest during these times. This is why it is so important for construction workers and their families to know their rights in the event of an accident.

Common Building Collapse Injuries

Building collapses are shocking and devastating. Those caught in the debris often suffer severe, even fatal, injuries. Some of the more common injuries in building collapses include:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Internal injuries and bleeding
  • Crush injuries
  • Loss of limbs (amputations)
  • Paralysis (partial or total)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Disfigurement
  • Suffocation
  • Electrocution
  • Toxic chemical exposure

Potential Compensation in Your Case

After a building collapse, you must explore your legal options for compensation. There are a few different avenues to the recompense you deserve for your injuries or the loss of a loved one. These may include:

Consult an attorney to determine what type of claim(s) are appropriate in your case. Depending on the claim you pursue, you could be eligible to seek a variety of damages, including:

Workers’ Comp Claim

  • Medical expenses
  • Replacement of lost wages
  • Vocational rehabilitation

Third-Party Personal Injury or Product Liability Claim

  • Medical expenses (current and future)
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Travel expenses for medical treatments
  • Cost of assistive devices
  • Cost of household services and support
  • Home and vehicle modification costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Loss of quality and enjoyment of life

Wrongful Death

  • Funeral and burial or cremation costs
  • Loss of the decedent’s income and future earnings
  • Loss of household support and services
  • Loss of companionship and consortium (for surviving spouses)
  • Loss of parental guidance (for minor children)
  • Medical expenses incurred before death
  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before death

Do I Need a New York Construction Collapse Accident Lawyer?

The aftermath of a building collapse can be confusing and heartbreaking for victims and their families. It doesn’t seem like the time to educate yourself on the legal process of securing compensation for your losses. You should be focusing on family and healing.

An experienced and dedicated construction collapse lawyer can help you determine the best course of action for your case. They can ensure you are pursuing just compensation and meeting all deadlines. A courageous attorney will do everything possible to get you the support you need to recover.

At Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, we have the knowledge, resources, and passion to seek the justice you deserve. Lean on us in your time of need, and we will fight for your rights.

Contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi Today

Can buildings collapse? They most definitely can, and unfortunately, they will again in the future. If you or a loved one are injured in a structure collapse, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi. Our dedicated New York construction collapse attorneys will help you courageously pursue the compensation you need and deserve for your terrible losses.

Schedule a FREE consultation today! We are proud to represent our neighbors in the Bronx and throughout New York and New Jersey.