Sidewalk Defect Accidents in New York

Falls are one of the leading causes of hospital visits in New York and the number one cause of injury-related deaths and/or hospitalizations for people over the age of 65. Many falls occur on New York’s sidewalks due to broken or uneven surfaces.

When someone is injured due to improper maintenance of a sidewalk, it is important to determine who was responsible for maintenance of the walkway as soon as possible. Depending on the location of the sidewalk and the type of property abutting it, the responsibility for maintenance falls either on the owner of the abutting property or the municipality in which the property is located in. According to the New York City Administrative Code, the city is only responsible for injuries on sidewalks under the following circumstances:

  1. The sidewalk is on public property or adjoins a one, two, or three family home that is owner-occupied.
  2. The sidewalk is not properly maintained.
  3. The sidewalk is not marked as being under construction.
  4. The commissioner of transportation has actual knowledge of the defect, evidenced by a written report, within 14 days of the accident and failed to correct it, or has received a written report of a previous injury due to the defect or dangerous condition and failed to correct it.  

In all other circumstances, the owner of the property abutting the sidewalk has a responsibility to maintain it in a safe condition, including repairing breaks and uneven surfaces. It is not necessary to prove that the owner had actual notice of the dangerous condition; it is only necessary to prove that he should have known that the condition existed.

If the defective sidewalk falls within the jurisdiction of the city, a claim for damages must be made within 90 days of the accident or injury. In cases in which a property owner is responsible for the sidewalk, the normal three-year statute of limitations applies. Nevertheless, you must act fast after an accident to preserve any evidence and maximize your chances of recovering your damages. For example, it is important to get pictures of the defective sidewalk as soon as possible after an accident, in case repairs are made before a claim can be filed.

To learn more about your rights, talk to a personal injury expert at Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. You can reach us at 212-227-4000 or visit our website. We are available at your convenience for a free, no-obligation consultation.