Sidewalk Slip and Fall Liability Cases
The hustle and bustle of New York City's streets are as iconic as its massive skyscrapers. With over 8.6 million residents weaving through 12,750 miles of sidewalk, accidents are bound to happen, especially if sidewalks are not safely maintained. This negligence can lead to dangerous conditions, including large cracks, uneven pavement, or icy surfaces that may result in serious injuries. If you have been injured in a sidewalk slip and fall accident, the team at Leav & Steinberg LLP can guide you through the legal process. We will determine if you have a case and help secure the compensation you deserve.
Who is Liable in a Sidewalk Slip & Fall Accident?
Many people may assume that sidewalks are public property and the responsibility of New York City. Until 2003, this was true, and the city was responsible for keeping each sidewalk safe and secure. With a tremendous amount of defects and potholes around the city, the city lobbied the Bloomberg Administration, and they amended the New York City Administrative Code in 2003. Two sections were enacted to address who was liable for sidewalk maintenance.
- Section 7-210: After this section was enacted, New York City is no longer responsible for the upkeep of all sidewalks, and liability is shifted to adjacent property owners. Of course, there are exceptions. If the building adjacent to the sidewalk accident is a one-, two-, or three-family home that is occupied by the owner(s) and used mainly for residence, the city is still legally responsible.
- Section 19-152: Here, the exact duties of property owners are outlined to ensure that sidewalks are free of any danger or obstacles. The responsibilities of property owners (at their own expense) include installing, constructing, repaving, and repairing sidewalks adjacent to their property. Premise liability insurance helps property owners cover these costs. They are also responsible for removing snow, ice, dirt, and other hazards that can make sidewalks unsafe. This section further details exceptions and defines other sidewalk "defects" that must be addressed. Some classifications of sidewalk defects include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A crack so severe that one or more sections can be loosened or removed
- Improper sloping that does not properly drain water onto the curb
- Sections of sidewalk that are completely missing
When someone is injured due to hazardous sidewalk conditions, injury alone does not guarantee a successful lawsuit against the liable party. Because this type of accident falls under premises liability, New York law requires proof that the liable party—whether it's the city or a property owner—was aware of the dangerous conditions of the sidewalk but did not address them. The victim must also prove that the hazardous sidewalk was a "substantial factor" in causing their injury.
Sidewalk Slip & Fall Accidents Resulting From Snow or Ice
The cause of a sidewalk slip and fall accident plays a crucial role in preparing a case. New York's "Four-Hour Rule" requires adjacent property owners to clear their sidewalks within four hours after snowfall between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. If property owners have failed to attempt snow or ice removal during this mandated period and an injury occurs, they may be liable. Another facet of the law to keep in mind is "storm in progress," a common-law rule that bans sidewalk slip and fall lawsuits from being filed if the injury occurred while it was snowing.
Whether minor or severe injuries are caused by snow, ice, or other hazardous conditions, victims should take all of the necessary steps to determine if they have a case.
Steps to Take After a Sidewalk Injury
Because sidewalk slip and fall accidents require extensive proof, victims should immediately bring their case to an experienced attorney who will walk them through a potential lawsuit. We are always working for our clients to establish a responsible party, whether it's the City of New York or an adjacent landowner, who will be held accountable for the defects that caused their injuries.
Note: If the responsible party is the City of New York, a "Notice of Claim" must be filed with the city within 90 days of the accident, and any lawsuit must start within one year and 90 days of the accident.
Choose Leav & Steinberg for Your Sidewalk Liability Case
Our team has extensive experience representing victims of sidewalk slip and fall accidents. We've helped recover compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and more.
- Daniel Leav was able to secure a verdict of $1,100,000 for a man who fell on a defective sidewalk. The defect was right at the edge of a pedestrian ramp. Since the laws changed in 2003, the adjacent landowner is now responsible for the sidewalk; however, the curb, tree well, and pedestrian ramps are excluded from the update. The City of New York is still responsible for maintaining these areas. After a thorough investigation, we discovered that the defect was about 12 inches outside of what would be defined as the pedestrian ramp, although the photograph made it appear that it could be in the ramp. Daniel Leav not only provided evidence of this, but he also convinced the jury in New York County that the landlord, despite trying to claim that a tenant should be responsible, was completely liable for the sidewalk's condition.
- More recently, the Appellate Division of the Second Department ruled in the case Gibbons v. The City of New York that a tree well was outside of the scope of responsibility of the adjacent landowner even though the owner was a commercial landlord who was responsible for the full maintenance of the sidewalk. The court stated that even if the owner were making special use of the tree well it would still not be held responsible.
Because this law is complex and evolving, we continually monitor the court's interpretation of the law so our clients can be protected. Results are not guaranteed and vary by case, but our team is dedicated to working tirelessly for each client.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on a sidewalk, get immediate medical care; then, contact Leav & Steinberg at 212-766-5222 for a free consultation.