The season for NYC sidewalk injuries: Who is responsible?

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There is nothing quite like New York City during the holiday season. Tourists and residents alike enjoy strolling on thoroughfares past buildings transformed into decorated, festive cityscapes.

However, with seasonal festivities can come potential danger related to snow and ice on walkways. Slipping or tripping and falling on a sidewalk because of inadequate ice treatment or snow removal can cause severe injuries like facial abrasions and fractures, broken wrists and arms, brain injury or even worse.

Who is responsible?

Untangling potential responsibility and legal liability for injury caused by inadequate sidewalk maintenance can be tricky, but New York City has its own regulations governing who is responsible.

The city’s Administrative Code provides that the owner of property adjacent to a sidewalk is financially and physically responsible for keeping the sidewalk in good repair and for keeping it free from snow and ice in a reasonably safe condition for pedestrians. If the negligent failure to meet this duty causes injury, property damage or death, the responsible owner is liable for the harm.

This legal responsibility does not apply to most owners of one-, two- or three-unit residential properties. In stretches of sidewalk abutting this type of real estate, the city may be the responsible party. The city is also normally responsible for reasonable sidewalk maintenance in front of public buildings.

Seek legal advice immediately after a sidewalk injury

It is important to seek legal advice from an experienced New York City personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a sidewalk injury. Sorting out the potentially liable parties may be complicated. For example, was the city or a private party responsible for maintenance on the particular stretch of walkway? What if the responsible party hired someone to make a repair or remove snow and ice, but the job was done poorly? What if a sidewalk defect was caused by a utility company or a construction contractor?

In addition, these New York City regulations include notice and deadline requirements, so the sooner you investigate these requirements, the more likely your claim will still be possible.


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