Property owners in New York City are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in front of their buildings. When they fail to adequately care for their sidewalks, they become liable for the injuries that pedestrians suffer.
Several years ago, the city signed two bills into law that reduce the city’s liability for someone’s injuries occurring from a defective or poorly maintained sidewalk and place that responsibility upon the owner.
The Adjoining Landowner Liability Bill forces property owners to maintain sidewalks in front of and adjoining their buildings. They also have to remove ice and snow during the winter. While most residential owners of one, two or three-family units are exempt, every other property owner has to maintain their property or face fines and personal liability for people who suffer sidewalk injuries. Some of the sidewalk conditions created by neglect or carelessness include:
- Sidewalk cracks
- Uneven or raised pavement
- Broken pavement
- Loose bricks in walkways
- Grating that can catch a heel, walker or cane
- Flat-lying metal doors that are higher or lower than the sidewalk’s level
Actions to Take when Injured on a NYC Sidewalk
Whether your sidewalk injury takes place in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, or Staten Island there are some basic steps you should take to ensure that the responsible parties are held liable:
- Get medical attention: Call 911 if you believe your sidewalk injury may be serious.
- Look for the cause: what caused your fall? Pay attention as to what specifically caused you to fall. Was it a defect in the sidewalk itself, or was the fall caused by snow, ice or oil on the sidewalk surface?
- Document your surroundings: If you have a camera or cell phone available take plenty of pictures of the apparent cause or causes of the fall. Also, periodically photograph your injuries.
- Record witness info: Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of any people who witnessed your sidewalk injury. They may provide important evidence to aid in obtaining compensation for your injuries.
- Contact an attorney: A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, resulting disabilities and pain and suffering caused by the sidewalk accident.
Whether your sidewalk injury resulted from a slip, trip or fall, you need to act fast if you want compensation. New York’s laws only allow injured people a limited period of time to bring an action for damages. Most importantly, you may have to file preliminary papers (notice of claim) and failure to do so may bar a later lawsuit.