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Understanding New York City’s Sidewalk Laws for Trip and Fall Injuries

Backpack lying on slippery paving slabs near falling man closeup. Ice injuries concept

New York City sidewalks are bustling, crowded places throughout the day and into the evening all week long. Unfortunately, the failure to maintain city sidewalks in a safe condition leads to trip and fall accidents that often end up causing serious injuries. It’s important for New Yorkers and visitors alike to understand the city’s sidewalk laws to know who is responsible if they get injured in a trip and fall. Read on for a basic introduction to New York City’s sidewalk laws. If you’ve been injured in a trip and fall on a New York City sidewalk, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C., to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced NYC sidewalk accident attorney.

Who Is Responsible for Maintaining Sidewalks?

In New York City, the responsibility for maintaining sidewalks in a safe condition generally falls on the property owner adjacent to the sidewalk. This includes ensuring the sidewalk is free from hazardous conditions such as cracks, uneven surfaces, potholes, snow, and ice. Property owners have a duty to inspect their sidewalks regularly and make necessary repairs or perform maintenance to prevent accidents.

There are exceptions to the general rule of property owner responsibility. For example, the City of New York is responsible for maintaining sidewalks adjacent to city-owned properties, such as public schools, parks, and certain government buildings. Additionally, in the case of a trip and fall on a sidewalk due to a defective utility cover or grating, the responsible utility company or the City may be liable.

The City also takes responsibility for sidewalks outside of one-, two- and three-family owner-occupied residences, unless the sidewalk defect is due to a homeowner-initiated repair that was performed incorrectly. This is a complex legal area requiring assistance from a knowledgeable sidewalk accident lawyer.

Notice of Defect

A critical aspect of sidewalk law in New York City is the concept of notice. For a property owner to be held liable for a trip and fall injury, it must be proven that they had actual or constructive notice of the defective condition and failed to address it. Actual notice means the property owner was directly informed of the defect, while constructive notice implies that the defect was present for a sufficient length of time that the owner should have discovered and remedied it through regular inspections. There may be several ways to prove this critical point, although it can be one of the more challenging aspects of a premises liability claim.

Filing a Claim

If you’ve been injured in a trip and fall accident on a sidewalk in New York City, it’s important to take prompt action. If the responsible party is a private property owner, you would typically file a personal injury claim against them or their insurance company, and you would have up to three years to file a lawsuit if needed. However, if the City of New York or a utility company is potentially liable, you must file a notice of claim within 90 days of the incident. This is a critical step in preserving your right to seek compensation.

Comparative Negligence

New York follows the rule of comparative negligence, which means that if you are partially at fault for your trip and fall accident, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were distracted by your phone and didn’t notice an obvious hazard, the court might find you partially responsible for your injuries. Insurance companies take advantage of this doctrine to reduce their liability. Your attorney will fight to keep you from being unfairly blamed for an accident you didn’t cause or contribute to, so don’t just take the insurance company’s word for it; talk to a lawyer before you accept an insurance settlement or decide you don’t have a case.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Navigating the complexities of New York City’s sidewalk laws and pursuing a trip and fall injury claim can be challenging. If you’ve been injured in a sidewalk accident, it’s important to seek the guidance of an experienced New York City personal injury lawyer. A skilled attorney can help you understand your rights, gather evidence to support your claim, and advocate for the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C., After a Sidewalk Accident in New York City

If you or a family member were hurt in a trip and fall accident on a New York City sidewalk, call Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C., at 212-889-9362 for a free consultation with an experienced and successful NYC sidewalk accident attorney.

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