Around 9:30 am Wednesday morning – March 12, 2014 – a deadly explosion leveled two buildings and rocked an entire neighborhood in East Harlem. As of Thursday afternoon, at least seven victims have been confirmed dead and dozens have been injured. Additionally, several victims are still missing. Emergency response efforts are ongoing as officials continue to search for missing victims, although efforts have been complicated by a large sinkhole that has formed in front of one of the buildings.
Determining the Cause
While officials have commented that the explosion may have been triggered by a gas leak, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that investigations into the official cause are still ongoing. Shortly before the explosion took place, Con Edison received a call reporting a gas leak. The caller had also reported smelling gas the night before. Although a truck was dispatched after the call Wednesday morning, it arrived after the explosion. Officials from Con Edison have released information regarding previous gas leaks and utility checks in the neighborhood. Two repairs had been made in 2011 and 2013, but no serious historical condition was found. Con Edison also checked for leaks in the area on February 11 and 28, and reported no problems at the time. Other records have revealed that one of the buildings had a history of safety violations, including a lack of smoke detectors, blocked fire escapes, and faulty light fixtures. Still, the reported gas leak is currently the only indication of danger, and one that authorities will continue to investigate.
The Rights of Victims
Victims injured in accident involving explosions or a building collapse- as well as families who have lost loved ones – may have the right to recover their damages by holding at-fault parties accountable for their negligence. In order to do so, victims must be able to prove that another’s negligence or failures more likely than not caused a preventable accident that harmed them. If the gas leak is determined to be the underlying cause of the Harlem explosion, for example, injured victims and families would need to establish who can be at fault for failing to address and fix the leak.
You can learn more about explosion accidents on our website.
Since our firm was first established in 1980, our New York City personal injury lawyers have handled similar cases involving explosions, fires, building and machinery collapse, serious injury, and wrongful death. We extend our support and experienced services to victims of explosion accidents, as well as nearby residents and businesses affected by explosions. Cases we’ve handled with similar circumstances to the Harlem explosion incident include:
- 51st Street Crane Collapse – Our firm handled a case involving the collapse of a tower crane on East 51st Street in 2008. The collapse claimed the lives of seven people and was referred to as the worst NYC construction accident in recent history by Mayor Bloomberg. Jaroslawicz & Jaros was successful in the intermediate appeals court in this matter.
- 91st Street Crane Collapse – An incident involving a crane collapse at an Upper East Side construction site. The accident killed two workers and caused severe damage to nearby properties.
- Yenem v. Randall et al. – A case in which a local pizzeria was forced to close its business after excavation efforts at an adjacent lot caused the pizzeria’s building to shift and tilt out of verticality. Jaroslawicz & Jaros secured a successful appeal in the NY Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state of New York.
- 42nd Street Construction Collapse –An accident involving the collapse of a temporary elevator tower and portion of scaffolding on the Condé Nast building. One victim was killed, more than a dozen people were injured, and nearby buildings were evacuated.
- 42nd Street & Lexington Ave – Con Ed explosion which damaged many buildings and offices as a result of which several attorneys whose offices were damaged hired the law firm of Jaroslawicz & Jaros to represent their interests to recover their damages.