Sidewalks are essential in New York, providing relatively safe havens for millions of pedestrians every day. But what happens when the sidewalks themselves become a hazard and who–if anyone–is responsible for sidewalk accidents in New York? The short answer to that question is usually the property owner provided the adjacent property is not multiple dwelling less than four families. For multiple dwellings less than four families, provided it is residential and owner occupied, it will be the City of New York. Generally speaking, the adjacent property owner or City is liable for the repair and maintenance of the sidewalks.
What makes a dangerous sidewalk? Not all hazards are as obvious as gaping holes or patches of visible ice. A sidewalk may be dangerous if:
- One or more flagstones is missing
- The sidewalk is crack so badly that pieces are loose
- The flagstones are raised and uneven
- Cracks within the sidewalk
- Uncleared or improperly cleared snow and ice
Any one of these safety defects can present a significant hazard to pedestrians. Indeed, trip hazards, unsupported walking surfaces, or improperly maintained (snow or ice covered) sidewalks can result in serious injuries. Broken bones, torn muscles and head injuries can result from what many would consider a “minor” fall.
As a pedestrian it’s up to you to protect yourself. If you see such hazards, avoid them. If necessary bring them to the attention of property owners. If the property owner fails to fix the hazard in a timely fashion they could face fines from the City. If someone is injured as a result of their failure to repair or maintain the sidewalk, the injured person may bring a civil lawsuit to recover unpaid medical expenses, lost time from work and pain and suffering for the injuries sustained in the accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a sidewalk accident in New York, contact a qualified personal injury attorney immediately. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at (800) 734-9338 or (212) 385-1122 to learn your rights.