Liability for Sidewalk Injuries
After tripping and falling on a sidewalk, you may wonder what your next steps should be if you were injured and believe you may have a personal injury claim. If you’ve tripped and fallen on a sidewalk in New York, call us at MJP Injury Law, serving the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Westchester County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Our personal injury attorney Michael J. Prisco is ready to help you throughout every step of the personal injury claims process and will work with you toward the goal of obtaining the compensation that you need in order to mend and move on.
Common Causes of Sidewalk Injuries
The most common causes of slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall injuries on the sidewalk are flaws in the sidewalk such as uneven pavement (caused by cracks, poorly done patchwork, hardware and debris, and collapsed surfaces) and weather conditions such as snow and ice. It is important to begin gathering evidence as soon as you incur an injury, especially in the case of snow and ice that may disappear within a few hours; if you slip and fall on snow and ice, make sure to take pictures of the site of the accident as soon as possible.
Who Can Be Liable for Sidewalk Injuries?
The Property Owner
Many municipalities and cities—New York City among them—require property owners to take the requisite care of the sidewalks outside of their buildings. According to NYC DOT, sidewalks should always be even and should not have any holes, and they should be cleared of snow, ice, and debris. If a property owner does not maintain their sidewalk and you slip and fall, you could very well be able to make a personal injury claim against the property owner.
In order for your claim to be successful, you and your attorney will have to prove that the owner knew about—or should reasonably have known about—a defect or dangerous condition on their property and that the owner did nothing, resulting in your injury.
If you trip and fall on a public sidewalk maintained by the City, you can sue the City for damages. You and your attorney will have to prove negligence in this case, just as you would if you were suing a property owner. However, the process of suing the City is slightly more difficult than suing a private property owner, as outlined below.
Proving Negligence in New York
Whether you are suing a property owner or the City, it is important to take pictures of the sidewalk’s condition right after you fall and get as many witness statements as you can. Both private property owners and the City may try to fix the sidewalk quickly after your accident to cover up the dangerous area; having a timestamped picture of the accident scene as it looked when you fell can be instrumental in proving negligence.
In cases involving accumulations of snow and ice, you will need to prove that the property owner or the City knew that snow and ice were in the weather forecast and that they did not clean up the sidewalk within a reasonable amount of time after the weather event that caused the snow and ice. In this case, you will want to include weather reports in your evidence.
If you are suing the City, you must show that the City had received written notice of the dangerous condition that caused your injury. Your attorney will be able to track down this information. If the hazard has been there for a long time without the City’s intervention, there is more likely to be a written record of the hazard, and thus, your claim should be easier to prove.
In any case, be sure to see a doctor as soon as you can after your accident so that your injury is properly documented. This will help you later when you file your personal injury claim.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit
If you are suing a New York property owner, the statute of limitations on filing a personal injury claim is three years from the date of the accident. However, if you are suing the City, you must file a Notice of Claim—detailing your accident, the reasons why you believe the City is responsible, and the amount of your damages—with the City within 90 days after the accident. If you fail to timely file your claim, your case will be dismissed. This is a key reason to contact an experience sidewalk accident attorney like Michael James Prisco to ensure your clim is timely filed and against the correct defendant.
Talk to Our Attorney About Your Case
If you have been injured due to a property owner’s or the City’s negligence, do not hesitate to call our attorney, Michael J. Prisco, Esq., Attorney at Law, at MJP Injury Law in the Bronx. We can help you gather evidence to support your claim, as well as assist you with all other steps involved in filing a lawsuit against a public entity. Don’t wait to take the first step toward possible compensation. Call us at MJP Injury Law today for a free consultation.