If a ceiling collapses, or a tile or object falls and hits you, you may have a case.
This article focuses on objects falling from a ceiling at a premises in Florida. Each state has different laws.
What do you need to prove to win a ceiling falling object case?
You need to prove that the tenant, owner or property manager’s negligence caused your injury.
You need to show that one of them did something carelessly, or failed to do something, that caused a ceiling tile or object to fall through the ceiling and hurt you.
Are ceiling falling object cases easy?
No personal injury case is easy, and falling ceiling tile or object cases are no exception. That being said, ceiling accident cases have settled for upwards of $750,000.
In order to get big money like that, you need to be seriously injured.
What facts can help your collapsed ceiling or falling object case?
There are facts that can help you prove liability. These include:
1. Owner doesn’t have pre-accident inspection records.
You may have an easier time proving liability if the property owner doesn’t have written records of inspecting the ceiling tiles and area above it before your accident.
2. Owner failed to maintain and repair the roof
The owner failed to maintain and repair the roof, which allowed an object to fall through a ceiling and hit you.
3. Electrician improperly installs fan that later falls on you
Assume you hire a contractor, who then hires an electrician, to install a ceiling fan at your home. You complain to the electrician that the fan is making noises and vibrating too much.
The electrician inspects it and says it’s working fine. While the fan is on, it spins off the ceiling and crashes on you. This causes your injuries.
In this situation, you can sue both the electrician and the contractor. They may both deny liability and say that:
- The fan is old (if true) or that it is defective.
- They told you to install a new fan and you refused.
- The screws were rusted.
Fast Fact: It helps your case if you complained, before the accident, to the contractor or electrician. Written complaints are better than verbal complaints. Prior complaints may make it harder for them to deny that they knew about the issues.
You may need to hire an engineer
You may need to hire an engineer to inspect the fan and determine the cause of the fall. The engineer may find that the electrician:
- Failed to install a necessary screw
- Didn’t use the installation manual during installation, which would have shown how to properly install the fan
An engineer will usually require an up front payment of $1,200. An attorney can advance the cost of hiring an engineer. The lawyer is repaid if, and when, the case settles.
If the case doesn’t settle, you don’t owe the lawyer anything. This is an advantage of hiring a lawyer.
4. Apartment building has history of prior leaks; you complained
Assume you live in an apartment building that has a history of leaks. You often complained to the building manager about water leaking into your apartment from the units above.
If a part of your ceiling collapses, striking you, you may have a good case. You can sue the property management company and apartment building owner. They both will likely have plenty of insurance to cover your injuries.
What are common situations involving a falling ceiling or object from a ceiling?
- A Ceiling collapses at a workplace on in the bathroom.
- A metal conduit pipe falls from the ceiling and hits you.
- A ceiling light falls and strikes or cuts you at a home improvement store like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware or True Value.
- A Ceiling fan dislodges from ceiling and strikes you.
Is your injury claim any different if a ceiling collapses on your while you’re at work?
Yes, you are entitled to get workers’ compensation benefits.
You still may have a claim against the owner or property manager of the premises if you can show that their negligence caused your injury.
You will likely not be able to sue your employer for personal injury. This means that your employer likely won’t pay you for your:
- pain, suffering
- mental anguish and emotional distress
Repaying workers compensation insurer for benefits it pays
In Florida, you must repay the workers compensation insurer for benefits that its pays on your behalf. However, you are allowed a discount for attorney’s fees and costs if you hire a lawyer.
This is one over 11 reasons to hire a lawyer if a ceiling tile or object fell on you. You may also be able to get the workers compensation lien further reduced if you didn’t recover the full value of your case.
Sometimes you may be able to get a waiver of the workers compensation lien, which can put more money in your pocket.
Is your case worth more if you can’t work as a result of a ceiling tile or object striking you?
The full value of your case is higher. If you can prove that the property owner’s carelessness caused your injury, then your claim’s settlement value should be higher.
What is the usual liability defense in a falling ceiling or object case?
The property owner usually argues that it:
- Had no notice of any problems with the ceiling or objects above it before your fall.
- Couldn’t have done anything to prevent this “random” event from happening.
Don’t be shocked if a motel or office building where a ceiling collapsed (or tile fell on you) says they had no notice of any problems with the ceiling.
Can your ceiling collapse case settle before a lawsuit?
Yes, although there are no guarantees. It will boil down to your ability to prove liability, causation, and your damages.
There is often a lot of information that the building owner will know that you won’t before a lawsuit. There may be facts that hurt their defenses that may result in a quicker settlement.
Over 87 factors affect many injury cases.
Ask the property owner to preserve evidence
You should send a written notice to the property owner to preserve the object(s) that caused your injury. You can send the notice via certified mail return receipt requested, mail, fax and email.
You may even want to have it hand delivered by a process server.
This will prevent the property owner from saying that they had no idea that they needed to save the ceiling tile, object or other evidence.
Should you ask them to preserve pictures and video of the accident?
Yes. Ask, in writing, for the entire day of video for the entire premises where the accident happened.
You should request, in writing, any photos of the accident scene and object that caused your injury.
It may help your case if you took photos of the collapsed ceiling or object that hit you.
Do attorneys charge less if your ceiling accident case settles before a lawsuit?
Yes. A Florida injury lawyer can’t charge more than 33 1/3% of the total recovery, in addition to costs. Settling before a lawsuit prevents a lot of stress and saves time.
Unfortunately, there are some cases where you need to sue in order to get an offer, or a fair offer.
What compensation can you get if a ceiling collapses, or an object falls, on you?
If the property owner’s carelessness caused your injury, you can recover the same damages as any other premises case. They are:
- Past Lost Income
- Future lost income reduced to present value
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Replacement value of lost personal property (e.g. damage to your watch, glasses, etc.)
- Funeral expenses
- Reimbursement for mileage to and from medical appointments
- Past Pain and suffering
- Future Pain and Suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life
- Punitive Damages (in rare cases)
Common injuries if an object falls from the ceiling or the ceiling collapses
Some typical injuries in these types of cases are:
- Back Injuries, including lower back injuries requiring surgery
- Shoulder injury (rotator cuff tear) requiring surgery
- Neck injury, including cervical fusion surgery
- Post-traumatic stress syndrome
Where on a property do ceiling tiles often fall and strike someone?
Ceilings or ceiling tiles may collapse:
- In a bathroom while an employee is at work.
- In a bathroom while you’re in a hotel room
Businesses where collapsed ceilings and falling object cases usually happen
If you look at past jury verdicts and settlements, you will note that there are certain businesses where ceiling accident cases usually happen.
- Hotel, resort or motels
- Shopping malls
- Hair Salons, Day Spas and Salons
- Theme Parks
- On a cruise ship
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