It is not uncommon for New York City residents to place air conditioning units precariously in windows. Some people may wonder whether there is any danger of these units falling and injuring or even killing someone although there have reportedly only been a few people who have been harmed in this way.
However, theoretically, these units can do a lot of damage. They weigh more than 40 pounds on average, so even falling from just a second- or third-floor window could be enough for them to achieve a deadly momentum. A more likely scenario might be an injury by any type of object falling from a building.
If this happens, a number of different people might potentially be liable. In the case of an air conditioner unit, the building owner and manager, the tenant and the person who installed the unit might all be liable. In 2007, a court in New York City argued that a building manager was not liable because there was no evidence the owners knew the unit was improperly installed. However, a later decision as well as the New York Supreme Court have ruled that the landlord bears some responsibility for air conditioning safety unless control of the unit has been handed over to someone else. Therefore, a court might look at the building policies on inspecting air conditioners and owner or manager access.
Premises liability is the area of the law that deals with the obligation of the owner or manager of a property to keep it safe for guests. In addition to falling objects, an owner or manager could be responsible for an unsafe set of stairs, a wet floor that results in a slip and fall accident, or even a lack of adequate security. Compensation from a successful premises liability case can help cover an injured victim's expenses related to the accident.