On March 12, 2014, two century-old tenements in East Harlem were destroyed in an explosion caused by a natural gas leak. The five story building was completely destroyed, killing eight people and injuring more than sixty others.
Obviously, numerous lives were affected by this disaster. Our hearts and thoughts immediately go to those who were killed or injured in the blast. But, the damage doesn’t end there. Some had a loved one, and/or a provider, hurt or killed and unable to continue normal daily activities for an unknown period. Undoubtedly, many or all of these victims have already contacted a personal injury lawyer.
Those who lived in the building, even if they were fortunate enough to be away at the time, lost personal possessions, vital papers, and a place to live. Some of these can’t be replaced.
Even the neighborhood around the building has experienced adverse impacts. The explosion may have caused structural damage in nearby buildings. Over 100 residents of nearby buildings now cannot return to their own apartments. Nearby businesses that depended on local residents for business will suffer a decline in receipts. Those who worked in the building now have no job with which to earn a livelihood. These parties, also, will need a top personal injury attorney in New York to press their damage claims. One affected victim has already retained Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein to seek fair compensation for the loss of his rent-controlled apartment, a valuable asset anywhere in New York City.
At this point, what do we know about the situation?
– Local and national agencies, including the National Transportation Safety Board, are still investigating and have yet to release a preliminary report.
– Residents of the building, and others living nearby, claim to have reported natural gas odors many times prior to the explosion, including minutes before the blast.
– The gas line serving the building was made of cast iron, a material known to degrade over time. It was installed over a century ago.
Numerous questions remain to be resolved by the various personal injury attorneys, including such critical ones as:
– To what agencies were the reports regarding gas fumes made, and when were these complaints made?
– What were the responses to the complaints?
– How many miles of similar pipes lie beneath New York City streets?
– Who inspects these pipes, and with what frequency? If inspections are performed by a private utility, what governmental authorities oversee the inspection process and reports?
– Has there been a change in the frequency or intensity of inspections in the past few years, perhaps as a way of saving some money?
Unfortunately, this is not the first gas explosion tragedy to occur in the immediate neighborhood. In June, 1992, a worker was killed and four injured in a similar explosion that occurred in a renovated building on East 100th Street. The Personal Injury Attorneys at Antin, Ehrlich, and Epstein represented two people who were seriously injured in that explosion, and were successful in obtaining significant compensation for each.
The Courts will eventually decide if there is any liability involved in this tragedy, and against which parties the liability should be assessed. But this process will take years, and you can be sure that both private and public entities involved will fight hard to defend themselves. The only way for victims to protect themselves as they recover their normal lives is to hire a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, so that a party fighting for them has a seat at the table.
If you are victimized by an event out of your control, call the Personal Injury Attorneys at Antin, Ehrlich & Epstein, LLP immediately.