Sidewalk Accidents Lawyer in Bronx
The most common form of transportation around New York City, at least for true New Yorkers, is walking. With traffic congestion perpetually on the rise, and an aging subway system featuring ever-increasing delays, traveling on foot on New York City’s sidewalks is often the best way to get around the Bronx and elsewhere in New York City. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, as of 2018, there are approximately 12,750 miles of sidewalk across the entire City of New York. It should thus come as no surprise that sidewalk accidents are among the most common causes of emergency room visits in New York City Hospitals, with sidewalk accident victims seeking treatment for broken bones and other serious injuries at a rate of hundreds per week. With approximately 8.5 million residents wearing down the sidewalks through heavy use, and brutal winter weather causing further wear-and-tear through freeze-thaw cycles that crack and damage the sidewalks, it is no surprise that New York City’s sidewalks deteriorate over time and create hazards that can result in serious pedestrian trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accidents.
The most common causes of Bronx sidewalk accidents involve a failure to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition free of dangerous tripping hazards and other defects. Usually, sidewalks become dangerous due to failures to properly maintain the sidewalk, or failures to properly construct the sidewalk in the first place. Sidewalk trip-and-fall accidents and slip-and-fall accidents are analyzed in very much the same way as any other premises liability accident claims, and require proof that the owner of the sidewalk was negligent in failing to ensure that the sidewalk was safe to walk on, and had notice of a defective condition that caused an accident. If you are injured in a sidewalk accident anywhere in the Bronx or New York City, our team of expert sidewalk accident lawyers offers you a free consultation, at no risk to you, to discuss how you can obtain compensation for your injuries.
Who is Responsible for Preventing Sidewalk Accidents in the Bronx and New York City?
Prior to 2003, the general rule was that the City of New York itself was responsible for maintaining its sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition, and was the primary target of just about every sidewalk accident lawsuit. However, on September 14, 2003, Section 7-210 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York was enacted, which shifted the responsibility for the maintenance of New York City’s sidewalks to many abutting landowners. As of today, the question of who is responsible for a Bronx sidewalk accident depends upon the type of building, and the identity of the owner of the building, in front of which a Bronx sidewalk accident occurs.
Section 7-210 of the Administrative Code specifies that the owner of any premises that directly abuts a New York City sidewalk is responsible for maintaining that sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. However, if the adjacent property is a one-family, two-family or three-family home that is owner-occupied and used primarily for residential purposes, the City of New York itself retains the legal responsibility to keep the sidewalk safe in that particular location. Sometimes, sidewalk trip-and-fall accidents occur in front of a building or property that is owned by the City of New York itself. In any situation in which the responsibility for the maintenance of a sidewalk falls to the City of New York, the N.Y.C. Pothole Law applies and requires that an injured sidewalk accident victim prove that the City of New York was given prior written notice of the defective sidewalk condition in order to have a successful sidewalk accident lawsuit. Also important to remember in any case against the City of New York is that a Notice of Claim must be filed with the City of New York within 90 days of the accident, and any lawsuit must be started within one year and 90 days of the accident.
I Have Been Injured in a Sidewalk Trip-and-Fall Accident. Can I file a Personal Injury Lawsuit to Obtain Compensation?
The law creates a duty on the part of adjacent landowners to ensure that all sidewalks abutting their property are maintained in a reasonably safe condition, and requires proper installation, construction, reconstruction, repaving, repairing and replacement of defective sidewalk flags that could pose a hazard to pedestrians walking on the sidewalk. The law also obligates adjacent landowners to remove snow, ice, dirt and other material from the sidewalk in a certain manner so as to keep the sidewalk safe for pedestrians. However, just because an accident occurs on a New York City sidewalk does not automatically mean that the adjacent landowner can be successful sued. To be successful, a Bronx sidewalk accident case must feature proof of violations of certain specific regulations regarding sidewalk defects, and proof that these violations proximately caused a pedestrian to have an accident upon contacting a defective sidewalk and thereby suffer serious injuries.
Section 19-152 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York provides specific definitions of what constitutes an actionable sidewalk defect that can serve as the basis for a Bronx sidewalk accident lawsuit. This rule specifies that any sidewalk defect that is deemed a “substantial defect” can serve as the basis for a sidewalk accident lawsuit. Under this rule, a “substantial defect” includes (i) a sidewalk featuring a missing sidewalk flag, (ii) a sidewalk featuring cracks so big that parts of the sidewalk flag can be loosened or easily removed, (iii) a sidewalk that has been undermined so that its flags rock or seesaw, (iv) a trip hazard of ½ inch or greater in vertical grade on the sidewalk, (v) a hole in the sidewalk measuring at least ½ inch deep by one inch wide, (vi) an improperly sloped sidewalk flag, (vii) a sidewalk flag featuring hardware defects that protrude ½ inch or more beyond the surface of the sidewalk, (viii) cellar doors that sink down one inch or more when stepped on, and (ix) any other defect involving “patchwork” repairs to the sidewalk or which affects the structural integrity of the sidewalk itself. If you can show that one of these categories of “substantial defects” caused you to trip and fall in a sidewalk accident, you can recover compensation for your injuries in court.
Perhaps the most common type of sidewalk trip-and-fall accident involves a tripping hazard such as uneven and raised sidewalk flags. When this type of trip-and-fall accident occurs, the most important step to proving your case is to obtain high-quality color photographs and measurements of the defect that caused you to trip and fall. Our firm employs an ex-N.Y.P.D. detective on staff who will go with you to the scene of your accident and take the necessary photographs and measurements to make sure that you have this key evidence to prove your case. Our attorneys and investigators will also obtain any construction or work permits relating to sidewalk construction work that may have caused a sidewalk defect, allowing you to hold those responsible for defective construction or repairs of the sidewalk to account for your sidewalk accident.
Preparation for deposition testimony in every trip-and-fall accident or slip-and-fall accident case is also extremely important. The law requires that you be able to describe the date of your accident, the exact location where it took place, the exact nature of the defect that caused you to fall, and the exact mechanism of your fall (i.e., with which foot you contacted the defect when you tripped or slipped on it) in order to successfully obtain compensation. Our expert Bronx sidewalk accident lawyers are dedicated to ensuring that all of our clients are fully informed about the legal requirements in their case, and will spend however long it takes to make sure that you understand the law applicable to your case and are ready to testify in a manner that maximizes your compensation if you are injured in a New York City sidewalk accident.
What if I Slip and Fall on a New York City Sidewalk Due to Snow and Ice? Can I Still Sue?
As mentioned above, Section 7-210 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York requires adjacent New York City property owners to clear or abate snow and ice from sidewalks abutting their property. The specific rules regarding the removal and abatement of snow and ice on New York City sidewalks are contained in Section 16-123 of the Administrative Code. This rule, known as the “Four-Hour Rule”, specifies that adjacent property owners generally must clear or abate snow and ice conditions on their sidewalks within the four-hour period after snow ceases to fall.
The “Four-Hour Rule” is complicated by the fact that no snow or ice removal work is required to be done between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Thus, in practical terms, if it snows overnight, but has stopped snowing by 7:00 a.m., adjacent property owners have until 11:00 a.m. to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice. Similarly, if it stops snowing at any time between 5:01 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., property owners have until the next morning to clear the sidewalk. In addition, there is a common-law rule known as the “storm in progress” rule that prohibits any slip-and-fall accident lawsuit involving an accident that occurred while it was actively snowing.
Adjacent property owners also have a duty to make sure that the sidewalk is kept free of snow and ice long after snow has ceased to fall. They are obligated to use shovels, sand, salt and other means by which to make sure that the sidewalks for which they are responsible are safe for pedestrians. If you can prove that no sand or salt was applied to an icy sidewalk, you may be able to hold the adjacent property owners accountable for this safety violation.
If you are injured in a Bronx sidewalk accident, we will help you prove that the adjacent landowner was negligent in failing to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition, free from dangerous conditions that cause trip-and-fall accidents or slip-and-fall accidents. Contact our expert Bronx sidewalk accident lawyers today at (718) 354-8000 for a free consultation to discuss how you can hold a property owner responsible if you are injured in a sidewalk accident anywhere in New York City. We offer you our no-fee guarantee: if we do not win your case, you will never pay one penny of fees or expenses to us under any circumstances.