New York City is known for its bustling streets and sidewalks, but what happens when you trip and fall and are injured by a broken sidewalk? If you’ve been injured due to a defective sidewalk, you may be entitled to compensation under premises liability law. However, navigating this area of law can be complicated, so it’s important to understand your rights and obligations if you find yourself in this situation.
Types of Defects
Sidewalk defects can come in many forms, and it’s important to know what to look for. Common types of defects include cracks, holes, uneven surfaces, raised edges, and loose or missing pavement. Additionally, defects can be caused by various factors, such as tree roots, weather conditions, or faulty construction. It’s important to note that the severity of the defect can also impact the strength of your case. For example, a small crack in the sidewalk may not be enough to establish liability, whereas as a larger defect that has been present for months may indicate negligence on the part of the responsible party.
To establish a trip and fall case, you must demonstrate that the property owner was negligent in their maintenance of the sidewalk. This means proving that the owner knew or should have known about the defect and failed to take reasonable steps to repair it. Additionally, you must show that the defect was the proximate cause of your injury, meaning that it directly led to your fall and resulting harm. It’s important to note that your own behavior can also be a factor in your case, and the court may consider whether you were acting reasonably at the time of the fall.
Public v. Private Sidewalks
In New York, some sidewalks are owned and maintained by the city, while others are privately owned. If you fall on a public sidewalk, you may have a claim against the city. However, there are specific rules and requirements for pursuing these claims. For example, you must file a notice of claim within 90 days of the incident, and the statute of limitations is generally one year and 90 days from the date of the accident. It’s also important to note that the city may have certain defenses available to them, such as the “prior written notice” defense, which means that they can argue that they did not have prior knowledge of the defect and therefore cannot be held liable.
If you’ve been injured due to a defective sidewalk, there are several steps you can take to preserve evidence and protect your rights. First, seek medical attention immediately, as your health and safety should be your top priority. Second, document the defect as thoroughly as possible, including taking photos and videos from multiple angles, noting the location of the defect, and capturing any other relevant details.
If possible, also gather contact information for any witnesses who may have seen your fall or noticed the defect in the past. Finally, consider consulting with an experienced premises liability attorney who can advise you on your legal options and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
Navigating premises liability law can be challenging, but it’s important to know your rights if you’ve been injured on a defective sidewalk. By understanding the types of defects that can lead to injury, the legal elements necessary to establish liability, and the specific rules for pursuing claims against the city, you can better protect your rights and advocate for your own safety. If you’ve been injured due to a defective sidewalk, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.