Most New York residents do a lot of walking throughout the city. The large number of pedestrians and fast pace of the city can sometimes result in an accident or injury due to a poorly maintained sidewalk. The questions then become, who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk and what can be done after an injury?
According to the New York City Administrative Code, property owners are legally required to keep the sidewalks adjoining or outside of their property in reasonably safe condition. This legal requirement does not apply to property owners who live on the property or use it for residential purposes.
Failing to keep a sidewalk in reasonably safe condition can mean things like failing to repave or repair sidewalk damage or not removing snow, ice or other substances from the sidewalk that can cause slippery or otherwise hazardous conditions. The property owner is responsible for the expense involved to repair any defects or install necessary items to keep the sidewalk in reasonably safe condition, unless the unsafe condition was caused by the city.
In addition, property owners have a legal duty to repair any substantial defect on the property. A substantial defect can mean sidewalk flags being loose or cracked sidewalk flag or having a height difference which increases the likelihood of a pedestrian tripping. When property owners fail to repair substantial defects, they may be ordered to by a city official.
Proving negligence after a sidewalk injury
If an individual is injured or killed due to unsafe sidewalk conditions, the property owner could face legal liability for negligence. To prove negligence, it must be established that the property owner had a legal duty to keep the sidewalk in reasonably safe condition and breached this duty, which proximately caused the injury. Proximately causing an injury means that the failure to keep the sidewalk in reasonably safe condition substantially contributed to the injury.
Once negligence is established, the property owner could be liable for damages including medical bills, lost wages or pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney can provide helpful guidance and advice after a sidewalk injury.