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New York City Sidewalk Trip & Falls: Who's Responsible?

New York City Sidewalk Trip & Falls: Who's Responsible?

New York is a very walkable city. In fact, according to the DOT, there are 12,750 miles of sidewalks in New York City. Since it's so easy to get around on foot, New Yorkers frequently choose walking as a means of traveling to work, home, school, running errands, and getting where they need to go. Although we expect to be able to walk safely to our destinations, poorly maintained sidewalks can be a hazard and cause unexpected trip and fall accidents. Potholes, debris, cracked concrete, or uneven paving can all contribute to dangerous sidewalk conditions in New York City.

If you suffered a trip and fall due to another's failure to properly upkeep or repair the sidewalk they were responsible for maintaining in a reasonably safe condition, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Sidewalk Trip & Fall Accident Liability

If you suffered from a New York City sidewalk trip and fall accident that resulted in injury, determining liability can be complex. What surprises most people is that New York City is generally not responsible for most of the trip and fall accidents that occur on sidewalks throughout the city (with limited exceptions) -- this was not always the case. In 2003, the City enacted New York City Administrative Code 7-210, commonly known as the "Sidewalk Law," which shifted liability for sidewalk accidents away from the City and onto the owners of the properties abutting the sidewalks.

Under the "Sidewalk Law," the owner of a property that abuts the sidewalk is responsible for maintaining it in a "reasonably safe condition" and shall be liable for injuries that are directly caused by their failure to do so. It specifies in part that the "failure to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition shall include, but not be limited to the negligent failure to install, construct, reconstruct, repave, repair or replace defective sidewalk flags." Under this law, a property owner is also liable for injuries to another that result from their failure to remove snow, ice, dirt, and other materials from the abutting sidewalk.

Although the City is not a legally responsible party for most cases involving sidewalk trip and falls, there are exceptions built into the law. The "Sidewalk Law" exempts the property owners of one, two and three-family homes which are owner-occupied and used exclusively for residential purposes. In these cases, the City may still be a legally responsible party and held liable for damages.

Sidewalk Trip & Fall Injuries

Sidewalk trip and fall accidents can be serious. If you have been injured by tripping and falling due to a sidewalk defect, it is best to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Common sidewalk trip and fall injuries can include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Broken bones
  • Fractured ankles
  • Back injuries
  • Spinal damage
  • Paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Fatality

Depending on the type of injury you sustain, your doctor may prescribe medication, require testing, and recommend a course of physical therapy or other treatment.

Recoverable Damages in a Sidewalk Trip & Fall

If you were injured in a sidewalk trip and fall accident, you may have incurred substantial medical bills, lost time from work, and suffered physically and emotionally. If the accident was the result of another's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries including unreimbursed medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.

Contact an Experienced Sidewalk Trip & Fall Attorney

If you were injured in a sidewalk trip and fall accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. There are strict statutes of limitation that begin running from the day of the accident and much shorter ones if a claim should be brought against the city. An experienced attorney can advise you of your legal rights and recourse and help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries, medical expenses, and time lost from work.

The Popick Law Firm has over thirty years of experience in obtaining compensation for victims of trip and fall accidents. Located in Fresh Meadows, NY, The Popick Law Firm handles personal injury and sidewalk trip and fall cases in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties. Contact The Popick Law Firm today for a consultation.