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Nov 29

Sidewalk Fall Injuries in New York City

New York City’s 12,000 miles of sidewalk provides the setting for thousands of slip and fall injuries each year. New York has unique laws under which a person may recover for their resulting injuries.

November 19, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ — With more than 12,000 miles of sidewalk, 8.4 million residents and 47 million visitors each year, it should come as no surprise that slip-and-fall accidents are as common as pigeons in New York City.

The extreme heat in the summer and cold in the winter wreak havoc on the city’s sidewalks, creating holes, uneven surfaces, cracks and other hazards that can trip up even the most seasoned New York City pedestrians.

In most American cities, the law holds municipalities responsible for maintaining the safety of public sidewalks – and this was the rule for years in New York. But in 2003, the law changed and the onus for keeping the City’s sidewalks in good repair was passed on to property owners.

Property Owners Liable for Sidewalk Upkeep

Under the City of New York’s Administrative Code ?7-210, property owners have a duty to maintain the sidewalk abutting their property in a reasonably safe condition. This includes removing ice and snow on sidewalks , as well as dirt and other debris. There is also a duty to install, construct, reconstruct, repave, repair and replace defective sidewalk.

Some examples of defective sidewalk conditions property owners must repair include:
– Missing portions of the sidewalk
– Cracked sidewalk
– Visible holes in the sidewalk
– Loose sidewalk that seesaws
– Uneven sidewalk
– Improperly sloped sidewalk that collects water

Property owners who fail to maintain the portion of sidewalk in front of their properties or who do so negligently may be legally liable for any sidewalk fall injuries or property damage that results.

The 2003 changes in the law also require property owners to carry general liability insurance policies to cover injury and property damage claims from sidewalk accidents.

Buildings containing one, two or three-family units that are wholly or partially owner occupied and used primarily as residential properties are exempt from ?7-210.

Collecting Compensation from the City

In some cases, a victim of a slip-and-fall accident still can seek compensation from the City for his or her injuries. For example, the City generally is responsible for any defects that occurred in the sidewalk prior to the 2003 changes to the law, unless the defect occurred as a result of the property owner’s acts or from the property owner’s “special use” of the sidewalk. An example of a special use is a portion of the sidewalk that is also part of a property owner’s driveway.

The City also may be responsible for any defects or dangerous conditions it creates in the sidewalk. For example, a court held the City responsible for a woman’s injuries that occurred when she stepped into a metal circular hole that was left after the City removed a damaged fire hydrant. The court found that the City and not the abutting property owner had a duty to repair the unsafe condition.

Slip-and-fall victims also may seek a disbursement from the City when the property owner fails to pay a judgment. This may occur because the property owner does not carry the required liability insurance policy or did not purchase enough coverage to fully compensate the victim for his or her losses. When this occurs, the accident victim can petition the City for payment of the judgment.

To be eligible, the following conditions must be met:
– The judgment must have been entered and payment must not have been received for at least one year
– The petitioner must provide proof that the property owner does not have sufficient liability insurance or other assets to pay the judgment
– The petitioner must provide proof of efforts used to collect the judgment
– The petition must be filed within three years of the original judgment

It is important to note that the City only will compensate the victim for his or her unpaid medical expenses up to a maximum of $50,000. Additionally, the City only allocates a total of $4 million each year for these types of claims, so not everyone with an unpaid judgment may be able to collect it from the City.

Conclusion

Many believe that slip-and-fall accidents really aren’t all that serious and only result in minor scratches and a bruised ego. But slip-and-fall accidents can be very serious and can result in broken bones, head and neck injuries, back injuries, soft tissue injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and even death.

For more information on your legal rights following a slip-and-fall accident, contact an experienced New York personal injury attorney today.

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