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In New York, getting compensation after a sidewalk trip and fall is a complicated process that depends on understanding a variety of different factors, including who was responsible for maintaining that portion of the sidewalk, the reason for the accident and when it occurred. An experienced New York sidewalk trip and fall accident attorney will know how to identify the responsible party and the proper procedure for bringing a claim and recovering a full and fair amount of compensation. If you have been injured in a trip and fall on a dangerous or negligently maintained New York City sidewalk, call the law office of Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C., for a free consultation.
A trip and fall on a New York City sidewalk can range from the embarrassing to the seriously harmful. A trip and fall victim could break an ankle, wrist or arm or suffer severe cuts and bruising to the face. In the worst cases, a head injury such as a concussion or other traumatic brain injury could result.
Trip and fall accidents don’t happen for no reason. Property owners are responsible for maintaining sidewalks in a safe condition, but New York City sidewalks abound defects due to negligent construction, faulty repair and lack of maintenance. Some of the leading causes of trip fall accidents in NYC include:
In New York City, the liability to maintain sidewalks safely is governed by section 7-210 of the NYC Administrative Code. According to this law, property owners are responsible for maintaining the section of sidewalk that abuts their property. This provision applies to both commercial and residential landowners. However, the City accepts responsibility for sidewalks abutting single-family homes as well as two and three-family homes, so long as they are at least in part owner-occupied and are exclusively used for residential purposes. The City is also responsible for sidewalks abutting municipal government property.
Business and commercial property owners and landlords, including owners of one, two or three-family homes that are not owner-occupied, are therefore responsible for maintaining the sidewalks abutting their property in a reasonably safe manner. However, the City could still be liable for accidents that occur on these sidewalks if the City itself caused or created the defect, such as by damaging the sidewalk during the negligent repair of a fire hydrant.
Identifying the responsible party is a critical part of obtaining compensation for injuries after a sidewalk trip and fall. Not only is it necessary to bring a claim against the proper party, but timelines and procedures can be vastly different depending on who is at fault. For example, you may have up to three years to bring a claim against a business but only one year when the City is the proper party. Also, bringing a claim against the City may require you to notify the City of your potential claim as soon as 90 days after the accident.
To prove liability in a sidewalk trip and fall, the injured party must be able to prove the owner created the danger or had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition. Constructive knowledge means that the hazard existed long enough that the owner should have known about it. However, many New York towns and villages have “prior written notice statutes” in place that exempt the municipality from liability on a constructive notice basis. In these communities, the city is only liable if it received actual written notice about the danger yet failed to correct it before the accident occurred. These municipalities could still be liable if they created the defect through their affirmative negligence, or if some special use of the property conferred a special benefit on the village or town. Talk to a knowledgeable and experienced New York sidewalk accident attorney to evaluate the strength of your claim based on these factors.
Take pictures of the sidewalk defect as well as the building abutting the property, so that the owner’s liability will be clear. Pictures could be especially important if the hazard were a temporary condition, such as equipment or debris left on the sidewalk. Also, talk to any witnesses who saw that you were walking normally and watching where you were going, and who can testify that the danger was not obvious. See a doctor as soon as you can to help identify any injuries and document that the sidewalk defect caused the injury. Also, call a lawyer as soon as possible to secure evidence before it disappears and make sure important deadlines are met.
Insurance companies are quick to challenge your injuries as less than serious or claim that your own negligence is to blame. If they do admit liability and offer you a settlement, it is likely to be far less than you are owed, hoping you’ll take their check and release your claim before you talk to an attorney and find out what your claim is really worth. Instead of falling for insurance company tactics and tricks, call the law office Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C., at 212-889-9362. We offer a free consultation to learn about your claim and let you know how we can help. We only charge a fee after we are successful in recovering compensation for you, so call today.