Apartment Ceiling in Van Nuys Collapses; Neighbors Worried Future Incidents Will Occur

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Elderly Woman Injured in Van Nuys Apartment Ceiling Collapse

Elderly Woman Injured in Van Nuys Apartment Ceiling Collapse

Aug 24, 2022

An elderly Van Nuys woman was recently injured after the ceiling of her apartment collapsed and came crashing down onto her and her dog, according to a recent report from local KTLA. Residents who live in the same apartment complex where the incident occurred are reportedly worried many of their units are at similar risk, noting that repairs must be made in order to avoid such an outcome.

The building – located on the 14400 block of Vose Street in Van Nuys – has housed the Barajas family for more than 20 years, KTLA said. The family noticed a “crack in the ceiling some time ago” and alerted management immediately. But according to KTLA, those concerns “fell on deaf ears.

The building is now “Red Tagged” while the family waits to hear from city inspectors, KTLA confirmed. The red-colored signage on the front door of the Van Nuys apartment complex indicates a building that is unsafe for occupants.

“They first noticed the crack about 20 days ago and watched as it grew larger and larger in the living room. The bedrooms also have cracks or a drooping ceiling. Barajas said his mother had called the property managers, Landmark Realty and Property Management, [but] for weeks nothing was ever done,” KTLA reported.

On Sunday, however, Alvaro Barajas was in the other room of the apartment when the ceiling collapse occurred. He heard a loud crashing sound coming from the living room, according to KTLA.

The worst thing you can think of just ran through my mind when I heard my mom cry for help,” Alvaro Barajas said to KTLA.

Barajas dashed into the living room, where he found his mother and her dog beneath rubble from the ceiling which had just collapsed, KTLA said.

“My mom noticed the crack getting bigger and just in a matter of minutes she was on the phone with management when it collapsed on her,” Alvaro told KTLA.

Barajas confirmed to KTLA that his mother suffered multiple injuries:

  • A bump on her head
  • Scratches
  • Bruises

The family dog reportedly suffered a fractured pelvis, fractured hip, and broken rib.

Barajas further told KTLA that his elderly mother is “traumatized and can’t sleep at night” after the ceiling collapse.

As KTLA noted in its report, the Barajas family apartment isn’t unique in being flagged as uninhabitable.

“Right across the courtyard, there is a yellow tagged apartment allowing limited entry to another flat with a support beam to hold up the ceiling. The yellow denotes that residents can go into the structure to get their belongings, but it’s not safe for long periods of time,” KTLA reported.

A neighbor of the Barajas family – Leonardo Herrera – told KTLA that his family alerted the apartment’s property management company to the potential for a ceiling collapse several years ago, and has continued urging that the appropriate individuals make necessary repairs. Herrera told KTLA multiple complaint forms have been filed with parties at Landmark Realty and Property Management over the years, yet no action was ever taken until the neighbor experienced a ceiling collapse.

“We have the same crack on our roof. Every apartment here in the complex has that issue but the property, the landlord, the manager is hiding it from its tenants,” Herrera told KTLA. “It puts my family and myself in danger.”

According to KTLA:

“The Barajas family is currently staying with relatives living in the same complex. A manager for the complex told KTLA she is aware of the complaints and they are working to get everything fixed. A city inspector is expected to arrive Wednesday before the ceiling can be repaired.”

What is a Premises Liability Lawsuit?

Premises liability civil claims are typically filed when an injury occurs as a result of negligence or carelessness on the part of a property owner or management company.

California’s premises liability laws are based on an obligation on the part of property owners and managers under Civil Code 1714(a) to maintain a “duty of care” through a safe environment.

Under California Civil Code 1714(a):

“Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself. The design, distribution, or marketing of firearms and ammunition is not exempt from the duty to use ordinary care and skill that is required by this section. The extent of liability in these cases is defined by the Title on Compensatory Relief.”

Filing a successful premises liability civil lawsuit typically requires your personal injury attorney to prove that the harm you endured was a result of someone else’s negligence.

When presenting such a case, the following four elements within a premises liability personal injury claim must be demonstrated:

  1. The at-fault party (defendant) owned, leased, controlled, or managed the property
  2. The defendant was negligent or careless in maintaining a duty of care
  3. You, the plaintiff, were injured or harmed as a result of said negligence
  4. The defendant’s negligence was the cause of your injury or harm

What is a Personal Injury or Premises Liability Duty of Care?

In personal injury law, a property owner or management company has a “duty of care” to maintain and operate a safe and hazard-free environment for all occupants, visitors, residents, etc.

When filing a premises liability claim, the duty of care a property owner or management company owes to those inside the building is often considered under the context of how another individual would “reasonably” act, or what a person in a similar circumstance would have done.

In other words, if a property owner or manager acted negligently according to how another reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances (i.e. failing to make repairs despite residents filing complaints, making requests, urging action, etc.), someone injured in a ceiling collapse or other type of incident may have grounds for a financial damages award.

How Much is a Premises Liability Claim Worth?

Premises lability civil claims can entitle an injured party to a substantial cash settlement or final damages award.

Some factors that may impact the overall value of a premises liability claim include:

  • The severity or the injury (or injuries) suffered
  • The degree of negligence on the part of the property owner or manager
  • The likelihood of an injury occurring at the property site
  • The property location
  • The likelihood of someone else experiencing a similar injury
  • Whether the property owner or manager knew (or should have known) of the dangerous condition
  • The owner’s purview or level of control over the property

How to File a Premises Liability Lawsuit

If you’ve been injured in a premises liability accident, filing a timely claim is important to ensuring that you’re able to recover maximum financial compensation for various damages, such as:

  • Hospital or medical bills (past and future)
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages

Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) Los Angeles premises liability lawyers are standing by to answer any questions you may have 24/7 via 818-322-4056. Led by former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County Sam Dordulian, DLG’s California premises liability and personal injury attorneys have the experience and proven results you need to ensure peace of mind throughout every step of the litigation process.

DLG was recently recognized for securing one of the Top 20 Premises Liability Verdicts in California, with a $3.25 million damages award obtained for a client who suffered a spinal cord injury when a bench collapsed in the lobby of a medical center.

Additionally, DLG’s premises liability lawyers are currently aggressively litigating on behalf of an injured client whose apartment building sustained a collapse similar to that which recently occurred in Van Nuys. Our team’s experience in successfully securing maximum financial compensation on behalf of injured California premises liability accident victims is unparalleled.

If you experienced a premises liability injury, don’t wait to file a claim. Contact our expert attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

DLG’s personal injury lawyers have obtained over $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a consistent (and near-perfect) 98% success record. With DLG, there is never any fee for our proven legal experience, and we only charge for services after we have successfully obtained the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your claim.

Contact DLG’s skilled, proven, and aggressive personal injury and premises liability attorneys today for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation.

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