One of New York’s great benefits is that so much of the City is accessible by walking. That benefit has its dark side, however. Sidewalk slip and fall accidents cause serious injuries to thousands of NYC pedestrians every year. Many of those accidents resulted from the negligence of property owners—who are charged with keeping the sidewalks safe for pedestrians.

The New York City personal injury lawyers at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, P.C. represent pedestrians who have suffered injuries in slip and fall accidents. The keys to recovering the largest possible damages award are determining if the property owner was responsible for maintenance– and if any of that responsibility extended to the injured pedestrian. 

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Understanding New York City’s Sidewalk Law

New York City laws place liability for injuries stemming from sidewalk defects primarily on property owners. Such claims rank among the top sources of property owners’ liability losses. It is the duty of the New York City Department of Transportation to inspect sidewalks. Property owners are then notified of any defects and must make repairs in a timely manner. Should the owner fail to make the necessary repairs within a reasonable amount of time, the city may hire private contractors to complete the job. The property owner is then billed for the work.

Common defects include:

  • Trip hazards–Vertical surface differences in adjacent sidewalk sections exceed .5 inches or more. This includes improperly installed hardware trip hazards.
  • Cracks–A crack that spreads to the point where one or more sidewalks sections are loose.
  • Loose sections–Sidewalk areas that rock or otherwise move back and forth due to erosion beneath.
  • Missing sections–One or more sidewalk sections missing or no sidewalk whatsoever.
  • Poor patchwork–Improper repairs include work that does not include the full depth of the hazard or is partly or wholly constructed with prohibited materials, such as asphalt. Concrete repair is required.
  • Noncompliance–Sections noncompliant with NYCDOT specifications.
  • Structural integrity defects–Examples include sections with cracks on one joint meeting a common joint and another joint.
  • Improper pavement sloping–This defect results in the pooling of water on the sidewalk.

New York City’s sidewalk law does not apply to owners of exclusively residential properties of three units or less that are owner-occupied. When slip and fall accidents take place on sidewalks abutting these properties, New York City generally holds liability.

However, via lease agreements and other contracts, some property owners have shifted sidewalk maintenance to other parties. These may include:

  • Property managers
  • Tenants
  • Merchants
  • Building maintenance companies

A personal injury lawyer at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green, P.C. will determine the responsible party for clients injured in a New York City sidewalk slip and fall accident.

Who is responsible for the maintenance and repairs of sidewalks?

If a sidewalk is entirely within the boundaries of a specific parcel, the owner has an absolute responsibility to fix known hazards, including accumulated ice, snow, and debris– within a reasonable amount of time. If the sidewalk is adjacent to that property, under City regulations, the owner still has an obligation to keep the sidewalk safe for pedestrians. The City might bear liability for slip and fall accident injuries that occur next to public buildings or public parks, playgrounds and schools.

In every case, the most important thing you should do after a slip and fall accident is to procure medical treatment for your injuries. As soon as is possible after you have seen your doctor, you should contact a New York City slip and fall lawyer. They will analyze your case and identify the party responsible for sidewalk maintenance and repairs.

Retaining a lawyer quickly is particularly important if your accident occurred near a public building. There are shortened notices and filing requirements for lawsuits against the City.

No fee unless we win. Call today for a free no obligation consultation!

What specific obligations do property owners have regarding sidewalk repair and maintenance?

Property owners will be liable for injuries caused by sidewalk hazards that they knew or should have known about– through routine inspection and maintenance. The City follows specific rules and standards that give property owners time to complete repairs or cleanup.

For example, if sidewalks are blocked by snowfall that occurs between 7AM and 9PM, owners have four hours to clear accumulated snow and ice. Further, liability will generally not be imposed on property owners for slip and fall injuries that occur in the middle of an ongoing storm.

If a property owner cannot fix a sidewalk problem within a reasonable amount of time, they must at least erect obvious warnings of the problem where pedestrians will see them—or cordon off the area to prevent access.

Is the NYC property owner still responsible if the injured party was partially at fault?

New York applies a form of comparative negligence that allows any injured party in a slip and fall accident to recover damages even if their conduct contributed to the accident. The total amount of damages will be reduced in proportion to their fault, so some compensation can still be recovered. The specific facts of each situation will define a party’s relative contribution to an accident. A skillful NYC slip and fall accident attorney will always use those facts in ways that will convince a jury that an injured party bore little or no responsibility for the accident or any resulting injuries.  

Contact Us When You Are Injured in an NYC Sidewalk Fall

The New York City slip and fall attorneys at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, P.C. understand the allure of the City’s sidewalks and the dangers that those sidewalks present. If you suffer injuries in NYC, you should not have to experience further economic harm from doctor’s bills, lost wages, and other costs and expenses if that accident resulted from a property owner’s negligence.

Please see our website or call our Manhattan offices promptly after your sidewalk slip and fall to consult with a personal injury attorney who can recover the damages you deserve.