I Fell On A Broken Sidewalk. Who Is Liable?
Under premises liability laws, property owners are responsible for maintaining the safety of their grounds and the abutting sidewalks. If you're injured in a slip-and-fall accident on a broken sidewalk, the owner of the adjacent property may owe you damages for their failure to maintain a safe walking surface.
New York City premises liability laws are intricate and confusing, especially when it comes to sidewalk responsibility. If you think you have a premises liability claim, personal injury attorney Reid B. Wissner can help you determine its validity, then pursue it. He has dedicated himself to finding justice for his clients for nearly 40 years.
Residential or Commercial Property
In New York City, residential and commercial property owners are responsible for the conditions of the sidewalks next to their property. NYC Department of Transportation staff will inspect sidewalks and notify proprietors of needed repairs, but the owners themselves are still in charge of fixing them.
The state of New York has a three-year statute of limitations for premises liability cases that starts the date of the accident that caused your injury. In these cases, you will need to prove that:
- The defendant owned, occupied, or leased the property.
- The defendant's use of the property was negligent.
- You were harmed on the property.
- The defendant's negligence caused the harm.
You should also be aware of the principle of comparative negligence. In the state of New York, you can be found partly liable for your slip-and-fall injury if, for example, you were looking at your phone or walked into a cordoned-off area. If a court finds you partially responsible, it will reduce your damages by a corresponding amount. So, if you were 30 percent liable, your damages will decrease by 30 percent.
There is one exception to the rules governing residential premises liability. In NYC, if the sidewalk abuts a one, two, or three-family residential property that is at least partially occupied by the owner and used solely for residential purposes, the city is responsible for sidewalk maintenance.
On City Property, Things Get More Complicated
Premises liability laws in NYC make it very difficult to pursue a claim against the city. You have a higher burden of proof, a shorter statute of limitations, and must take additional steps to be able to sue at all. Municipalities such as NYC have sovereign immunity, which means you can't sue them unless they consent to the suit.
Because of sovereign immunity, you must first file a notice of claim with the department you intend to sue. The notice must contain, at a minimum:
- Name and address of you and your attorney
- The nature of the claim, including date, time, and location
- The nature of your injuries
- The damages you seek
In NYC, you have only 90 days after the accident to file a notice of claim. This is why it's imperative to hire an experienced premises liability attorney such as Mr. Wissner immediately. Including too little information in the document or filing it with the wrong department could invalidate it. Mr. Wissner will ensure your notice includes the necessary facts, is sent to the proper entity, and is delivered on time.
After you file your notice of claim, the statute of limitations begins. In NYC, it lasts only one year when suing the government, so time is again of the essence. If your suit proceeds, you will also encounter a greater burden of proof.
In addition to the negligence you must prove in every premises liability case, in NYC you must also demonstrate that the city had been previously warned of the dangerous conditions that caused your injury. If the city was aware of the situation and did nothing, it may be held liable.
Whether you need to file a claim against a private party or the city, Mr. Wissner will make every effort and pursue every angle to help you get justice. He serves Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Long Island, and surrounding areas of New York City. Call (212) 406-9288 today to set up a consultation.