Heimer Engineering New York pre-purchase home, building, condo, and co‑op inspection

Applying Scientific and
Engineering Principles
and Common Sense
to Home Inspections
and Building Inspections

Professional Engineer
Expert Witness
Stairway Slip, Trip,
and Fall Accidents

Professional Engineer
Expert Witness

Serving Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx,
Staten Island, Nassau, Suffolk,
Rockland, Putnam, and Westchester

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Among the services Heimer Engineering's Professional Engineers perform are investigations and reports on slip, trip, and fall and other accidents caused by defective steps, handrails, and stairways. Professional Engineers can determine the cause(s) of a stairway slip, trip, and fall accident. A Professional Engineer can also determine which Codes and Standards are violated, whether the hazard was created by the owner, whether a pedestrian injury is foreseeable, etc. The Professional Engineer can serve as an expert witness if necessary.

There are many accidents and injuries that occur because of building or site defects. Among the services Harold Krongelb P.E. performs are investigations and reports on slip, trip, and fall and other accidents caused by defective steps, handrails, and stairways. Harold Krongelb P.E. has investigated many stairway slip, trip, and fall accidents and resulting injuries at a wide variety of sites such as restaurants, parks, museums, office buildings, homes, apartment buildings, outside steps, sidewalks, playgrounds, and more.

Stairways and steps at these locations are prone to defects such as irregular steps, improper handrails, poor or improper maintenance, improper design, improper construction, unsafe equipment, and improper repairs.

Building codes are designed to protect the public. In addition, there are numerous standards published covering virtually all aspects of modern life. These standards also serve to help protect the public.

In many cases, City of New York Codes or State of New York Building Codes are applicable. By including code references in the reports, it becomes obvious how the code violation contributed to the injury, and how following the applicable codes would have helped prevent the accident and injury.

Slippery when wet signWhen performing stairway slip, trip, and fall investigations Harold Krongelb P.E. analyzes the site and determines the cause of the stairway slip, trip, and fall accident and resulting injury. If appropriate, photographs and measurements are taken of the steps to document the conditions at the site. It is then determined which codes and standards are applicable, and how conditions at the site violated the codes or standards.

After the research, a report is prepared describing the conditions at the site, the cause of the stairway slip, trip, and fall accident, and the code and reference standard violated. The reports are clearly written and help all parties understand the cause of the accident and injury.

Misleading Coefficient of Friction Measurements

Harold Krongelb P.E.

Harold Krongelb P.E.Harold Krongelb P.E. performs all Engineering inspections where litigation or arbitration is being considered. Harold Krongelb P.E. is a State of New York Licensed Engineer with extensive experience in the preparation of reports, preparation of affidavits for summary judgment and other court motions, along with testimony experience.

Harold Krongelb P.E. has experience with slip, trip, and fall incidents, playground incidents, injuries caused by falling ceilings, injuries caused by other building defects, injuries caused by sports equipment, injuries caused by scalding hot water, analysis of the dynamics of vehicle accidents, and other Engineering-related analysis, reports, and testimony. Harold Krongelb P.E. also has experience with Building Codes, Engineering analysis when only photographs and depositions are available, assessment based on historical codes and images, computer systems, and other areas of Engineering.

To contact Harold Krongelb P.E.:

Info on Harold Krongelb PE:

Building Code Resource Info

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is often defined as the immediate or closest cause. When examining a site or building where a personal injury accident occurred, it is important to determine the proximate cause of the accident. Some Engineers cite irrelevant deficiencies as the cause of an incident. For example, if a client fell at the top of a set of steps, hazards near the bottom of the steps are irrelevant.

There are many experts who look to find any defect or hazard and never determine if it is the proximate cause of the accident. We only include relevant defects, hazards, and codes in the reports. Engineering reports that include irrelevant information may look good, but these reports can be defeated in summary judgment.

Conditions Changed?
No Problem

Folding CameraAbout 40% of the personal injury consultations are regarding hazards and defects that no longer exist. Another 45% of the personal injury consultations are regarding conditions that are either transient or have had some changes even though the hazard or defect has not been corrected. In only 15% of the personal injury consultations are the conditions unchanged.

In about 50% of the personal injury consultations, we are denied access to the premises without multiple court orders, are provided with deliberately restricted access to hinder the site examination, are prohibited from taking photographs or images to hinder the site examination, or the defendant significantly delays the site access to the point where a report needs to be issued without a site examination.

A majority of the personal injury consultations must rely (at least in part) on photographic images. As long as the photographic images fairly and accurately represent the site as it existed at the time of the incident, a Professional Engineer's report detailing hazards and code violations can be created.

Professional Fees

Barber NickelYou will be quoted a fixed fee based on the information that you provide. There is no extra fee for answering your questions on the phone or for signing an affidavit that states a Professional Engineer prepared the report. If you request an increase in the scope of the consultation, a basis for the additional fees is always discussed before any Engineering work is performed. You know the expected fee for the professional services when work is started.

Professional Engineers are prohibited from working on a contingency basis. Professional Engineers are prohibited from engaging in fee-splitting, which means no referral fees are ever paid.

Trivial Defects

A crack in a sidewalkDe minimis means too trivial or unimportant to be considered. A de minimis defect is a defect that a defendant is arguing is too small to be considered as the cause of the accident and injury.

Who decides if a defect is de minimis?  Is it decided by the Attorneys, the law, or the Engineer?  Engineers need to take into account whether a defect is de minimis in determining the proximate cause of an accident and subsequent injury. It a Professional Engineer determines that a defect is the proximate cause of an injury, then it is axiomatic that the defect is not de minimis.

Foreseeable Incidents and Reasonable Care

The cause of injury is often the defendant's failure to use reasonable care in the maintenance or repair of a building. Engineers need to look at the site conditions, and determine if the owners created a defect or hazard by failing to use reasonable care. It is also important to determine if it is foreseeable that the condition could cause an injury.

Engineers and Medicine

CaduceusProfessional Engineers are not Physicians and cannot provide a medical diagnosis or medical advice. However, it is important for Professional Engineers performing personal injury consultations to have a basic understanding of mechanism of injury, how a human responds in different situations, how different medical conditions are treated, etc. Often it is necessary to read parts of medical papers to understand the connection between an injury and a hazardous condition.

Professional Engineers are not Medical Doctors, and are not providing medical opinions on the treatment of an injury.; However, a Professional Engineer will obtain all relevant information, including medical information, to provide a professional opinion as to the cause of a personal injury.

Engineer Experts or Hired Guns?

Some experts do whatever the Attorney asks them to do, and never bother to evaluate the situationSome expert witnesses are "hired guns". These expert witnesses provide a report in favor of their client regardless of the facts or reality. We never exaggerate or embellish findings. If there is no defect, that is what you are told. There are Attorneys who will never use us because we do not embellish the reports in favor of their clients.

Embellishing a report or relying on a code reference that is not applicable may work if the insurance company settles based on an inaccurate report. In other cases, the expert's statements in the inaccurate report cannot stand up to summary judgment or under cross-examination in a Court of Law. We provide a professional opinion based on the reality that will hold up to summary judgment or under cross-examination.

Words are Important

Do Not EnterIt is important to know what not to say and how to phrase findings. Judges typically do not accept medical, psychological, legal, financial, etc. professional opinions from Engineers. Yet some Engineer routinely provide these opinions in their reports. These non-Engineering opinions often do not hold up under summary judgment.

It is important not to make statements that might be interpreted (or perhaps misinterpreted) as being a non-Engineering statement. Even an otherwise well written report can be thrown out in summary judgment if an otherwise accurate statement is misinterpreted.

Everything in the reports is designed to stand up to summary judgment and under cross-examination during trial. This has been tested during many court trials and summary judgment decisions.

"Old School" Engineers

Older Engineers worked according to rules and standards they created on an as-needed basis.After World War II, Engineering moved from war-related work to developing products for consumers and of national interest (such as the space program). There were few universally accepted standards other than building codes and mechanical standards (for example, screw sizes or wire sizes). Many Engineers who graduated before the mid-1970s created their own standards, possibly changing these standards from project to project.

Although organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) began developing standards after World War I, many of these standards did not acquire the force of law or become well accepted practices until the 1960s. In addition, organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set and enforced standards. Organizations such as ANSI and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) set standards that may not have the force of law, but are universally followed.

Some "Old School" Engineers retired from full-time employment to become consulting Engineers. These  "Old School" Engineers approached accident investigations the same way they had worked their whole life. The result was reports that reflected the  "Old School" Engineer's standards or the Engineer's interpretation of Building Codes without regard to the realities of how the Department of Buildings interprets codes or good and accepted practices.

An example of the difference between old self-created standards and newer standards can be seen in the change in automobile safety in the last 50 years. In the late 1950s, automobile manufacturers advertised how safe their cars were. The standards for safety were set by automobile manufacturers. In the late 1950s, General Motors stated their cars had a "safety X-frame" in advertising.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a video in 2009 that showed a frontal offset collision between a 1959 Chevrolet Impala and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. Analysis after the collision showed that the driver of the 1959 Impala would have died instantly, and the driver of the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu might have sustained a knee injury.

1959 and a 2009 Chevrolet Impala Collision

This video illustrates the difference between self-created standards and well developed and accepted standards. By the self-created standards of 1959, the Impala was "safe". By today's standards, the 1959 Impala offers little passenger protection.

When choosing a Professional Engineer, be careful of Engineers who define their own standards. While they may sound good, they will hold up no better under cross-examination based on today's standards than the 1959 Chevrolet Impala held up against the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.

Accident or Incident

Accident or IncidentAccident has no clear meaning. An accident could be an injury caused by a property owner's negligence. An accident could be a mistake by the injured party. An accident could be caused by a contractor's negligence.

We evaluate incidents. Someone is injured, and that is the incident. It is only after the incident is evaluated that the cause and negligence can be established.

When an incident is evaluated, there is no pre-conceived notion of who is negligent or how the defect or hazard was created. The incident is evaluated from an unbiased point of view, including the application of Engineering principles. Only after all the facts related to the incident are determined can negligence and blame be determined.

Sidewalks, Stairways, Paths, and
Means of Egress

A trip and fall on a public sidewalk is different than a trip and fall on a stairway, ramp, or other required means of egress. The standards and applicable codes are often different. Sidewalks by their nature have some irregularities and pedestrians need to exercise reasonable caution. A concrete path that is part of a required means of egress may be held to a higher standard. A Professional Engineer can determine which codes and standards are applicable.

Building Codes and
Engineering Standards

It is important to determine which building codes, regulations, and standards are applicable to a specific incident. When a building is constructed, it is constructed under the codes, regulations, and standards are in force at the time of construction. Heimer Engineering has an Extensive Library of Historical Building Codes, Heimer Engineering's searchable Building Code library includes:

City of New York Codes

  • Codes, regulations, and standards change over time, and modifications are made to existing buildings and sites.1877 City of New York Building Code
  • 1892 City of New York Building Code
  • 1899 City of New York Building Code
  • 1900 City of New York Building Code
  • 1901 City of New York Building Code
  • 1906 City of New York Building Code
  • 1916 City of New York Building Code
  • 1938 City of New York Building Code
  • 1968 City of New York Building Code
  • 2008 City of New York Building Code
  • 2014 City of New York Building Code

State of New York Building Codes

  • 1951 State of New York Building Code
  • 1954 State of New York Building Code
  • 1959 State of New York Building Code
  • 1964 State of New York Building Code
  • 1972 State of New York Building Code
  • 1977 State of New York Building Code
  • 1978 State of New York Building Code
  • 1984 State of New York Building Code
  • 2004 State of New York Building Code
  • 2008 State of New York Building Code

Other Codes

  • 1938 FHA Construction Standards
  • 1915 Fire Underwriters Model Code
  • State of New York Multiple Dwelling Law
  • State of New York Tenement Law
  • State of New York Department of Transportation Standards (roads, signs, traffic signals, etc.)
  • Federal Transportation Standards (roads, signs, traffic signals, etc.)
  • City of New York sidewalk regulations
  • Electrical Codes

Most important is knowing which codes apply to which locations. If irrelevant codes are cited, the Professional Engineer's report is of little use.

Codes, regulations, and standards change over time and modifications are made to existing buildings and sites. It is important to examine available history of the building to determine what codes, standards, and regulations are applicable.

Even if the building or site is unaltered, it may not have complied with the codes, standards, and regulations in effect at the time the building was constructedThe term "grandfathered" is often applied to existing construction. Saying a building is "grandfathered" is often inaccurate. "Grandfathered" only applies to original unaltered construction. "Grandfathering" requires that no changes were made without required permits and approvals. Once a change is made to a building, newer building codes, standards, and municipal regulations become applicable. For example, making a change to the interior of a building might require that exterior steps be brought up to modern codes. Just because a building complied with the applicable codes at the time it was constructed does not mean that hazardous defects are permitted.

Even if the building or site is unaltered, it may not have complied with the codes, standards, and regulations in effect at the time the building was constructed. Many older codes, standards, and regulations are not as clearly written as their more modern counterparts.

The Engineer needs to consider both the wording and the correct application of the code, standard, or regulation. In addition, the injury may have been caused by faulty maintenance, which may be a violation under current codes.

Just because a building complied with the applicable codes at the time it was constructed does not mean hazardous defects are permitted. Failing to maintain a building or site in a safe condition is never "grandfathered".

Expert Witness Court Testimony
by Professional Engineer
Harold Krongelb P.E.

Clearly written reports help make it clear how defects at a site contributed to an accident and injury.Clearly written reports help make it clear how defects and hazards at a site contributed to an accident and injury. Clearly written accurate reports can help you settle a case and avoid the time and expense of a trial.

If the case has to be litigated in a court of law, Harold Krongelb P.E. has served as expert witness and has qualified as and expert witness in United States Federal Courts and at all levels of State of New York Courts.

For questions regarding Professional Engineer expert witness services, call Harold Krongelb P.E. at 646.757.4511 or email hkrongelb@heimer.com.

Professional Engineer Expert Witness

Contact Heimer Engineering℠

Call Heimer Engineering℠ for a Home InspectionHeimer Engineering℠ New York pre-purchase home, building, condo, and co‑op inspectionsHeimer Engineering℠ is happy to help you. Senior Staff members are available Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.  After 5 PM, please leave a message. Messages are checked during the day on Sunday, and Sunday evening through Thursday evening. Inspections are performed seven days a week.

Heimer Engineering's℠ inspection fees are competitive with non-Engineer Home Inspector's fees, especially when you consider that many non-Engineers charge extra for termite inspections, swimming pools, etc.

Inspection orders are taken by senior staff members. A real estate purchase is complex and you should be able to speak with someone who can answer your inspection questions.

To set up an appointment for a pre-purchase inspection or to find out about Engineering services or expert court testimony email Info@heimer.com, text 888.769.6910, call 646.757.4500, or call 631.462.1515. If no staff member is in the office, leave a message.


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Heimer Engineering℠ PC BBB Business ReviewHeimer Engineering℠ serve the Greater New York area, including New York City (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island), Long Island (Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Upstate New York (Rockland County, Putnam County, and Westchester County).

Heimer Engineering℠ respects your privacy. Some home inspection firms share information with insurance, landscaping, home maintenance, moving, cable, mortgage, and other companies. You will not receive phone calls or solicitation emails from third parties as a result of providing Heimer Engineering℠ with personal information. For more information, see Heimer Engineering's℠ Privacy Policy.

Call 911In the event of a life-threatening emergency call 911. Emergency situations need to be handled by first-responders who can evacuate buildings, shut utilities off, and take other steps necessary to preserve life.

Standards of Practice
and Code of Ethics

Heimer Engineering's℠ Professional Engineer Home Inspectors substantially adhere to the InterNACHI® Code of Ethics, to Subpart 197-4 of the State of New York Code of Ethics and Regulations for Home Inspectors, the ASHI® Standards of Practice, and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE®) Code of Ethics. In the event of a conflict, the Professional Engineer Home Inspectors use Engineering judgment to decide what standard or Engineering principle takes precedence. All State of New York Licensed Professional Engineers are bound by New York State Education Law Article 145.


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Inspections are performed only after the client signs a Pre-Inspection Agreement. Use of this website is governed by our Terms of Use. This website is made available for informational purposes and does not represent a professional opinion of your situation.

Heimer Engineering PC℠ performs home inspections, building inspections, condo inspections, and co-op inspections in the State of New York. Expert witness services are provided regarding playground injuries, parking lot, walkway, and stairway slip, trip, and fall.

The Heimer Engineering PC℠ website was designed and is maintained by . The contents of this website were written by . This website is not intended to offer Engineering opinions or advice. Sitemaps and indexing information can be found at Page Sitemap, Image Sitemap, Mobile Sitemap, and Video Sitemap.

To protect an individual's privacy, images of people used on this site are either licensed stock images or used with permission. The images of the clients who emailed compliments to Heimer Engineering℠ are not of the actual client.

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©1997-2019 Andrea and Harold Krongelb. All rights reserved. Used under a revocable license by Heimer Engineering PC. All documents and methods used by Heimer Engineering PC are owned by Harold and Andrea Krongelb and are used under a revocable license.

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