It is likely that if you own a house, apartment building or store in New York City, there is a sidewalk in front of it. In the winter, your sidewalk could be covered in ice or snow. Who is responsible for making sure your sidewalks are clean and safe when winter weather strikes—you or the city?
If you own property in New York City with a sidewalk and the sidewalk is cracked, slick or has debris on it, you are responsible for fixing it. New York City Code states that property owners are responsible for keeping the sidewalks adjacent to their property in good repair and condition.
In winter, this means clearing ice and snow from your sidewalks. The city will not do this for you.
You should shovel enough snow or remove ice to create a walkway on the sidewalk that is four feet wide. You must make sure people using the sidewalk can reach crosswalks if your property is on a corner lot. You also must make sure to clear snow and ice from bus stops and fire hydrants in front of your property.
If you do not maintain your sidewalk this winter and a person slips, trips or falls on it, you could have to pay for the costs associated with their injuries. They may even decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against you.
Such a lawsuit would be based on negligence. You had an obligation to maintain your sidewalk, which you did not fulfill. Because you did not fulfill this obligation, a person was injured. If it was foreseeable that a person could injure themselves on your sidewalk, that person could claim you were negligent and you could be responsible for paying them damages.
No one wants to find themselves on the losing side of a lawsuit. So, this winter, make sure to shovel and clear ice when necessary. It may be a pain, but it is better than having someone injure themselves on your sidewalk.
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