A tragic sidewalk cellar door accident in Brooklyn claimed the life of a 30-year old homeless man in Bedford Stuyvesant late last month. The unidentified man was walking past an abandoned building located at 1281 Bedford Avenue when a flimsy metal cellar grate covering a gaping 12-foot hole in the sidewalk collapsed beneath him. In the words of one eyewitness, he was just walking along and then simply “disappeared.” The man fell approximately 12 feet to the concrete cellar floor below street level. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
While fatal sidewalk cellar door accidents in New York are rare, happening only once or twice a year, non-fatal accidents are far more common. There are thousands of sidewalk cellar doors and elevators in New York City and many of them are improperly maintained and unsafe. In fact, a New York Daily News investigation into 311 data shows that in the first month of 2015 alone, New York City officials have received 19 complaints about unsafe sidewalk cellar grates and ground-level basement elevators. If that trend continues throughout the year, that number will likely reach 200 before next winter.
Who is responsible for sidewalk cellar door accidents in New York? Under New York City law, property owners must inspect, maintain, and repair sidewalk cellar doors adjacent to their buildings. Property owners who fail to maintain safe cellar doors can be fined. And if unsafe conditions contribute to an accident involving a pedestrian, the property owner is liable for all financial damages caused by their negligence.
Since the victim died in this instance, surviving family members can sue for unpaid medical expenses, funeral costs, pain and suffering for the time the victim survived and lost future wages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a sidewalk cellar door accident in NYC, you should contact a New York sidewalk accident attorney immediately to discuss the legal options available to you. Call the Law Offices of Nussin S. Fogel for a free consultation at 646-736-2777 or 212-385-1122 to learn your rights.