New York City is built for foot traffic, and with 56% of households foregoing a vehicle, it has the lowest car ownership rate in the nation. Naturally, New Yorkers do a lot of travel by sidewalk. But when sidewalks are in disrepair, it can lead to serious injury or even death.
A fall on a poorly-maintained NYC sidewalk can cause multiple injuries – physical, psychological, and financial. In the most serious cases, sidewalk falls can even be fatal, placing enormous emotional and monetary strain on loved ones left behind. If you or a loved one have been injured on a NY sidewalk, speak with a New York City slip and fall lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green. We fight for the rights of those who have been injured, tirelessly pursuing full compensation.
When can a sidewalk fall lead to a personal injury lawsuit?
Not every fall on the sidewalk gives rise to a viable personal injury claim. To hold someone accountable for slip and fall injuries – either through a lawsuit or an insurance claim – the injury victim must provide evidence of the potential defendant’s negligence.
When you meet with a sidewalk injury attorney, he or she will be looking for the information needed to determine whether someone else was legally responsible for the fall. Some of the questions that the attorney will be looking to answer will include:
- Where was the sidewalk located?
- Who owned the property adjacent to the sidewalk?
- Who was present when the fall occurred?
- What condition caused the fall?
- Did any person or entity have control over the area?
- Did your actions contribute to the fall?
Even someone who was partly to blame for their fall may recover against a more at-fault party. Under the state’s contributory negligence law, a claimant’s culpability does not bar them from financial recovery.
Sharing blame for your fall will reduce the amount of compensation available in proportion with the contributory negligence. For example, if you sustain $100,000 in damages but bear 20% of the blame for the fall, the most you can recover from the defendant is $80,000.
Who can I sue for a sidewalk fall injury?
Who is responsible for a NY sidewalk? Local laws determine who is responsible for a sidewalk, and this plays a large part in figuring out who is to blame for a sidewalk fall.
In many cases, the owner of the property abutting a sidewalk is responsible for its maintenance and repair. Other potentially liable parties can include landlords, property managers, and those hired to maintain the area.
New York City Administrative Code alters this general rule in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and all across NYC, and in many cases makes it more difficult to bring a lawsuit. Under local law, the City of New York is responsible for sidewalks abutting owner-occupied 1-, 2-, and 3-residence homes. However, it prevents those injured in sidewalk falls from filing a sidewalk negligence lawsuit unless they can show that the City had prior written notice of the defective condition of the sidewalk.
Proving negligence for a slip and fall on city sidewalk
To prove that a defendant was at fault for a fall on the sidewalk, the plaintiff or claimant must present evidence that the defendant knew or should have known of a dangerous condition of the sidewalk and that the condition was a substantial factor in the fall.
Commonly, the defendant will point the finger back at the plaintiff as the potentially at-fault party in an attempt to reduce or eliminate any monetary award to the plaintiff. This can be intimidating for someone to endure after an injury, but an experienced attorney will be prepared for these types of claims.
Causes of slip on sidewalk accidents
Poor maintenance and weather lead to many slip or trip and fall injuries in New York. Some of the most common reasons they occur are:
- Cracks and holes from seasonal freeze and thaw cycles
- Ice and snow
- Debris such as yard waste
- Uneven pavement caused by settling under the concrete, uplifting by tree roots, or other causes
The burden is on the plaintiff to pinpoint the cause of the fall after a slip and fall accident. It pays to act quickly to preserve any evidence of it to support an injury claim. Take photos of the area and the object or other hazard that led to the fall. Take notes about the surroundings and landmarks. Obtain the contact information of any witnesses to the fall. Where applicable, file a report with the landlord of the nearby property or the police.
What to expect after a sidewalk fall
Some sidewalk falls can lead to minor injuries like strains, bruises, cuts, but in other cases, the damage can be more severe and include head trauma, broken bones, and in some cases, even death. In either case, it helps to know what to do after a slip and fall accident.
If you have any reason to suspect an injury, seek medical treatment as quickly as possible. This will help protect your legal rights and may also improve your medical outcome. Speak to an experienced lawyer as soon as you can. Laws, called statutes of limitations, limit how long injured parties have to file a claim for a personal injury such as a trip and fall on the sidewalk, so there is no time to waste. If the defendant is a municipal entity, a Notice of Claim is required within 90 days of the accident and a lawsuit must be filed within one year and 90 days. Your lawyer will also guide you through the insurance or litigation process with assurance.
A skilled sidewalk injury lawyer can help you understand what your claim is worth. Most personal injury cases are resolved voluntarily by the parties, but a minority of cases proceed to trial. In either case, sidewalk fall settlements and verdicts depend on a number of factors such as:
- Degree of injury
- Amount of medical bills
- Whether ongoing treatment is necessary
- Impact on others who depend on the injured person
- Other injuries such as emotional distress caused by the fall
The slip and fall attorneys at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green work with medical professionals and other experts to explain to judges and juries why the fall occurred and how it led to the injury and any lasting effects. Our team of expert witnesses help juries understand what fair compensation is for the losses sustained because of the fall.
Speak with a sidewalk injury attorney
If you have sustained an injury on a New York sidewalk, learn more by reading our frequently asked questions about slip and fall and then speak with an NYC slip and fall injury lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green.
For decades our committed advocates have given unmatched personal attention to our clients while fighting for maximum compensation. We focus solely on personal injury cases and are available 24/7 to speak. Call today for a free confidential consultation with one of our distinguished New York sidewalk fall lawyers.
Additional “fall on the sidewalk lawsuit” resources:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Important Facts about Falls, https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
- New York City, New York City Administrative Code Sidewalk Rules, http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/infrastructure/19-152.shtml