New York City has over 12,000 miles of sidewalk to accommodate pedestrians headed to work, school, or to visit various parts of the city. But the sidewalks have plenty of cracks and uneven spots and can pose other dangers resulting from inclement weather, construction work, and more. Anyone who has been injured because of a sidewalk defect has the right to pursue legal action, but the claim may be complicated depending on the nature of the accident and whether the city or someone else was responsible for it.
Have you been hurt because of a dangerous condition involving a sidewalk? Reach out to the dedicated and compassionate attorneys of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C.
Different Types of Sidewalk Accidents
Unfortunately, there are many different ways pedestrians can be injured on New York’s sidewalks. A few common examples include:
Weather-related accidents. These are slips and trips that are caused by snow, sleet, ice, and other weather phenomena. In some cases, accumulated precipitation (e.g. piled up snow) can hide defects on the sidewalk that the pedestrian unwittingly steps upon and gets injured.
Slick surfaces. The sidewalk itself may not be safe to walk on due to non-weather-related slickness. For instance, leaves that have gathered in one place can present a slipping hazard. So can oily substances poured out onto the sidewalk by an adjoining business.
Cracks and uneven pavement. This is a common problem owing to settling, roots growing up under sidewalks and neglect. Broken, cracked, lifted, uneven, and otherwise damaged sidewalks present a danger to all pedestrians.
Trash and clutter. New York has rules about placing trash on the curb for pickup. If a business or residence obscures the sidewalk with trash or clutter, a passerby could trip over it and become injured.
Poor lighting. An area that isn’t well-lit is going to be prone to accidents and injuries, especially on the sidewalk. Without adequate lighting, pedestrians are unable to see obstructions or defects that render the walkway unsafe.
Construction work. When construction zones are put up around the city, sidewalks are often closed and pedestrians are rerouted so they can walk around the area. But these walkways are not always safe. Construction equipment could even block a walking path and lead to injury.
Who Is Responsible for Sidewalk Accidents?
Under New York City Administrative Code Section 7-210, in many cases, it is the responsibility of the owner of the property that abuts the sidewalk to keep it in a reasonably safe condition. Failure to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition can render the property owner liable for any injury or death that results. Maintaining the sidewalk includes, but is not limited to:
- Fixing defects in the sidewalk
- Removing snow, ice, and other accumulated precipitation
- Keeping the sidewalk clean, clear, and free of obstructions
- Removing tripping hazards and debris
There is an exception for sidewalks that are next to one-, two-, or three-family residential real property, provided that the property is (1) owner occupied, in whole or in part; and (2) used exclusively for residential purposes. The city is responsible for these premises and can be held liable for the injury. The city is also responsible for sidewalks adjacent to government property.
What To Do After Suffering A Sidewalk Accident
If you’ve been hurt in a sidewalk accident, seek medical attention immediately. Even if you think your injuries are minor, they could later develop into something serious. If you don’t seek medical attention you could jeopardize your health and your right to seek compensation.
To the extent possible, document the dangerous condition. Take pictures and record videos, but don’t hesitate to do so. The condition could quickly disappear, such as snow or ice melting, and therefore leave you with no proof. Or the property owner could come and clean up the sidewalk and destroy the evidence of his or her negligence.
If there were any witnesses to your accident, get their names and contact information for later. Your attorney will reach out to them to find out what they witnessed.
Filing A Sidewalk Injury Lawsuit
If the property owner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk and failed to do so, that party can be sued in a personal injury lawsuit. It will be up to the victim to prove that the property owner was negligent in allowing the hazardous sidewalk condition.
Note, however, that property owners are only required to take reasonable steps to keep sidewalks free and clear of any dangers. So, for instance, an owner would not be expected to clear the sidewalks of snow during the middle of an ongoing blizzard. But if the snow is allowed to persist for several days and then turn into ice, it’s likely the property owner would be responsible for a slip-and-fall accident.
There are different rules in place if the at-fault party is the government, as opposed to a private property owner. For instance, the accident victim must serve a written notice of claim on the city within 90 days of the accident. There are other procedural requirements and time limits that are best entrusted to an experienced sidewalk accident attorney. That’s where we come in.
Contact Our Queens Sidewalk Accident Attorney
No matter who is at fault for your sidewalk accident, our dedicated personal injury law firm will work to build a compelling case for the most amount of damages available under the law. These damages may include compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and more. If you’re ready to get started on your accident claim, give Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. a call today.