It’s nearly impossible to avoid every hazard on New York City’s 12,750 miles of sidewalks. The City’s infrastructure allows for most people to walk wherever they need to go, but it can prove dangerous at times. While the Department of Transportation (DOT) does its best to repair defective sidewalks, there are sometimes issues that are missed and someone ends up getting injured.
Walking over one of those rusted metal cellar doors on New York’s crowded sidewalks is just one of the risks pedestrians face. Many people do their best to walk around them out of fear that they will fall through, while others confidently march right over them. Not only can people fall through them, but it is also easy for someone to trip over them and sustain an injury, especially if they are not properly maintained. Other common issues that affect the safety of a sidewalk include:
- Collapsed Sidewalk
- Trip Hazard due to lifted sidewalk edge
- Hardware trip hazard
- Improper slope
- Tree roots
The DOT typically holds property owners responsible for maintaining sidewalks in front of their buildings and they occasionally face inspection. When a potential hazard is discovered during inspection, the DOT will issue the property owner a notice of violation for failing to properly maintain the sidewalk. At this point, the City may fix the defect and simply send the property owner the bill for the cost of the work. In other situations, though, it is up to the property owner to hire a contractor to take care of the sidewalk defect.
When one is injured as a result of a sidewalk hazard in New York City, he or she may be able to hold someone liable. Depending on who owns the sidewalk—whether that be a private property owner or the municipality—a victim may be able to prove that someone was negligent if the sidewalk was poorly maintained, or the responsibility to repair the sidewalk was not fulfilled.
If the municipality is responsible for the upkeep of the sidewalk you were injured on, there is a very short amount of time that you can file a complaint. Usually, one is only allotted 90 days from the time of the accident to notify the city in writing of the time, place, and circumstances of the accident. Further, there is often a shortened deadline to file a lawsuit against the municipality. In New York City, it is one year and 90 days from the date of the accident. If you are involved in an accident from a faulty sidewalk, it is important to record everything about the occurrence by:
- Taking a picture of the scene;
- Keeping the clothes you wore that day;
- Taking a picture of any bruises or injuries you sustained as a result of the accident;
- Retaining medical records of emergency and ongoing care for injuries sustained as a result of the accident.
In addition to proving that the defective sidewalk caused your injuries, it is necessary to also prove that city should have been aware or was aware of the hazard. One way to do this is to learn about other complaints that may have been filed about the same defect, which would prove that the municipality knew about it, and did not correct the problem.
If you have been injured as a result of a defective sidewalk, it is important to seek legal advice immediately to make a claim before the deadline passes. The pedestrian accident attorneys at Goldberg Sager & Associates are experienced in helping clients resolve sidewalk safety issues and may be able to guide you through the legal process and help you receive the compensation you deserve. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (718) 645-6677.