Liability for Sidewalk Cellar Door Accidents

New York City sidewalks are notoriously hazardous. Cracked cement, potholes, icy patches - pedestrians can be at risk simply walking down the street. Of the many sidewalk hazards that exist, cellar doors are the cause of some of the most serious injuries.

Reported cases of sidewalk cellar door accidents demonstrate that these incidents can occur by various means. In just the last decade in New York City, plaintiffs have been injured in the following ways:

• Doors opened inward when victim walked on top of them, causing victim to fall into cellar.

• Victim was about to walk over the top of cellar doors when someone unexpectedly opened the doors from within, causing the doors to strike the victim's lower legs.

• Upon exiting a store, victim fell through open, unmarked cellar doors.

• Victim fell and was injured after foot became caught in gap between cellar doors and metal doorframe.

• Protruding cellar door hardware caused victim to trip and fall.

Markets and shops along the street often use their cellar to store inventory. Employees enter and exit the cellar several times a day, and the doors are usually left open especially when merchandise is being delivered. This frequent opening and closing of the heavy metal doors poses a danger to pedestrians in close proximity.

In addition, since many of these doors were installed many years ago, the condition of many of these doors has deteriorated considerably. Owners are reluctant to spend the money to repair or replace the doors, contributing to the number of slip and fall accidents.

The New York City Administrative Code requires that property owners have a duty to maintain and repair the sidewalk in front of their property, and this includes cellar doors. Furthermore, if an employee causes an accident while performing duties on behalf of the owner, the employer can be held to be vicariously liable for the accident.

When an accident does occur whether by cellar doors that are raised and protruding above the sidewalk level; left open and unattended or opened suddenly without warning, property and store owners generally try to escape responsibility by claiming that the pedestrian was not watching where he or she was going or that the cellar door was in plain sight and should have seen by the pedestrian.

Of course, this is nonsense. An experienced personal injury attorney will respond by demonstrating that the cellar doors were actually a trap for the pedestrian and the accident was unavoidable. If you have been injured in a sidewalk cellar door accident, you need to take action. For a free consultation, contact the experienced sidewalk accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel at (800) 734-9338 or (212)385-1122 to learn your rights.

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