Every day, people are injured when they trip and fall on broken, uneven, or poorly installed or maintained sidewalks.
Sidewalk maintenance is critical to the safety of pedestrians and property owners can be held liable for injuries or damages passersby suffer as they attempt to navigate obstructed or improperly maintained sidewalks.
When a property owner fails to make necessary repairs to a sidewalk that has settled or buckled or the owner does not clear ice and snow during winter months, this can result in serious, even fatal, injuries to those who use those sidewalks.
For more than 20 years, the attorneys at Parker Waichman have successfully represented victims injured due to the negligence of property owners.
Well-maintained Sidewalks Critical to Safe Movement in New York City
Many people in New York rely on walking and public transportation as their primary means of moving around the city. People walk to work and school and do their shopping and daily errands on foot. Parents wheel their children in strollers. People with mobility issues using crutches, canes, wheelchairs and electric scooters can find it difficult and exhausting to make their way along poorly maintained or damaged sidewalks. Blind people risk injuries from falls on uneven or obstructed sidewalks.
People deserve a city that is safe and navigable and good sidewalks are a crucial part of enabling people of all ages and abilities to move freely through a city. A property owner may be liable when someone is injured on his or her property—this is often referred to as premises liability.
To be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, a person hurt in a sidewalk accident must establish a number of elements:
- a dangerous condition existed on the owner’s property
- the property owner had knowledge of that dangerous condition prior to the fall
- the owner had sufficient time to remedy the defect prior to the accident but did not do so
- the property owner failed to properly fix the defect that lead to the accident
The property owner can be held liable if the owner failed to repair a dangerous obstacle, such as a hole, or broken or uneven sidewalk within a reasonable time frame; failed to clear ice or snow after a storm; failed to remove obstructions blocking the sidewalk; failed to make a repair that fully remedied the condition.
Because there is no exact definition of what constitutes a dangerous condition, courts must usually deal with allegedly dangerous condition on a case-by-case basis. Some conditions are commonly acknowledged to be dangerous, for example, ice and snow on a sidewalk. Sometimes the danger is structural, such as a broken or uneven walkway.
After an Accident
After an accident, the injured person needs to gather material to support his or her premises liability claim. The injured person must document the unsafe conditions that caused the injury. If, for instance, the injured person had previously sent emails or letters to the property owner complaining about an unsafe condition, those documents can help prove that the owner was aware of the issue. Pictures or video provide proof of the unsafe conditions. The injured person should collect names and contact information from any witnesses to the accident.
When an injured person can establish the property owner’s liability, the person may be awarded compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Consulting a personal-injury attorney after an accident can help the injured person make an effective case. An attorney familiar with these types of cases can ensure that appropriate steps are taken in a timely manner.
The first step is for the attorney to review the circumstances of the accident to determine if the property owner could be held liable for the injuries. The attorney will gather documentation to show safety or maintenance issues and will document the injuries, the treatment, medical expenses, and lost wages, to help with a civil lawsuit or negotiations with an insurance company. The attorney can file an accident report, contact witnesses for their accounts of the accident, and serve legal notice to the property owner to preserve important evidence such as footage from video surveillance cameras. The attorney will file all necessary documents with the court and other parties in a timely manner.
Legal Help if You are Injured Because of a Faulty Sidewalk
If you have been injured in an accident due to a broken, uneven, or improperly maintained sidewalk, Parker Waichman LLP can provide a free, no obligation evaluation of your legal rights. To reach the firm, fill out the contact form to request a phone call at your convenience or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).