Falling Air Conditioner Injures Woman in Manhattan

Recently, a falling air conditioner hit a Manhattan woman walking on the sidewalk, splitting open part of her leg, cutting her elbow, and scraping and bruising her arm. She was walking with her boyfriend when she said something hit her on the head.

A window air conditioning unit had fallen from the sixth floor, right between her and her boyfriend. A man who identified himself as a guest in the apartment rushed down. According to the DOB, property owners must ensure air conditioning units installed on buildings six stories or higher are supported by a bracket.

The last pedestrian injury involving a falling air conditioner occurred in 2010 when a Vietnam vet got hit on the head, but only after an awning broke the air conditioner's fall. After nearly dying during surgery, the injured veteran filed a $21 million lawsuit against the building owner for the owner's conduct, including “harassment” and “dangerously and improperly” installing the air conditioner unit without brackets.

As both these cases illustrate, an owner should always have professional s install air conditioning units in apartments. Sometimes tenants will install air conditioning units on their own. In these cases, you should require them to use professional installers as well. Window units that are improperly installed by a tenant can damage your property. They can also cause serious and costly accidents, which you—not your tenant—may have to pay for. For a rundown of the risks you run when you let someone other than a professional install an air conditioner in one of your building's windows, as well as model lease leanguage you can use to require tenants to use a professional installer, see "Require Professional Installation of A/Cs to Avoid Damage, Liability," available to subscribers here.