Are Property Owners Responsible for New York City Sidewalk Injuries?

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This August, concrete rained down onto the sidewalks around Grand Central Terminal in New York City, miraculously harming no one. However, this incident highlights the dangers of the city's sidewalks that New York personal injury lawyers regularly hear about from their injured clients. Fortunately, there is legal recourse for someone injured while walking the streets of New York.

Raining Concrete at Grand Central Terminal

Last month, a tractor-trailer truck struck the side of New York's Grand Central Terminal, causing large chunks of concrete and part of a railing to fall down into the sidewalk below the historic building. Fortunately, the concrete was momentarily caught by the awning of a shop, allowing pedestrians to scurry about of harm's way before the concrete tumbled onto the sidewalk.

The driver was from Delaware and did not realize that trucks over 15 tons are not permitted on the viaduct that passes over the terminal. He reported after the accident that he did not see the "little sign" notifying him of the prohibition and that he was focusing on not hitting other vehicles instead of avoiding the building.

This latest incident is only one example of the hazards pedestrians face when walking New York City's streets. On any given sidewalk, new construction blocks pedestrians' paths and bike lanes encroach upon the walking space. New York City has also created new pedestrian plazas that blur the line between sidewalk and roadway. With the plethora of hazards that put pedestrians in peril, concerns about who is responsible for sidewalk injuries inevitably arise.

How Premise Liability Applies to New York City Sidewalk Accidents

Although they may seem benign, sidewalks can pose serious dangers to pedestrians, especially if poorly maintained. Pedestrians may slip and fall on slick, icy walkways or trip and fall over a tree root or uneven pavement.

In New York City, property owners are responsible for the injuries that occur on the sidewalks that abut their buildings, both private and government-owned. This is known as premise liability. For example, property owners must ensure their sidewalks are free of snow and ice during the winter and are clean and do not pose unreasonable hazards to pedestrians any time of year. Likewise, the city is responsible for the curb of the sidewalk and is responsible for injuries caused by accidents that occur on the curb.

While property owners may try to shirk their legal responsibilities for injuries sustained on their sidewalks, the law is clear: I t is their duty to properly maintain safe walkways. If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident on the sidewalks of New York City, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who may be able to help you hold the property owner accountable for medical expenses and losses you incur.