Slip and falls are dangerous injuries, particularly in a space like a sidewalk that often has both foot and vehicle traffic. If a sidewalk isn’t maintained, this can lead to a series of painful injuries from twisted ankles to brain injuries, to even death in the most severe cases. If you recently suffered a slip and fall, please contact our Rockland County sidewalk accident lawyers as soon as possible. We will use all of our knowledge and experience to get you compensated.
Slip and Falls: Overview of Premises Liability
Sidewalks can sometimes fall into disrepair and as a result, may pose a hazard to pedestrians. Problems like uneven pavement, uncleared snow, and unrepaired cracks can all cause someone to stumble and hurt themselves.
If you fall and hurt yourself on a public sidewalk, you may absolutely sue. First, however, you’ll have to identify who to sue. Generally in the United States, local ordinances move the responsibility for public sidewalk maintenance onto the shoulders of local property owners and businesses, who must maintain the sidewalk that abuts their property. There are some exceptions across the country, which can allow you to recover from the municipality.
Typically speaking, you’ll need to show that:
- The property owner had a duty of care to maintain that sidewalk in a safe condition
- The property owner breached their duty in failing to repair, remove, or post warnings of hazards
- In neglecting this duty, the property owner caused the injuries and financial losses your case is alleging.
In many jurisdictions, courts will apply the comparative negligence rule. If you as the plaintiff are partially responsible for your own injury, your recovery will be reduced by a percentage proportional to your percentage of fault for the injury. For example, if you are awarded $20,000 in compensation, but found 10% negligent, then your award will be reduced by 10% to $18,000.
In a successful slip and fall sidewalk accident lawsuit, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include costs like out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages, whereas non-economic losses include compensation for pain and suffering as well as emotional distress.
State Specificities: Who Is Responsible for a Slip and Fall Accident on an NY Public Sidewalk?
New York law includes two statutes on slip and fall liability: §7-210 and §19-152 of New York’s Administrative Code.
§7-210, also known as the Sidewalk Law, states that whoever owns property adjacent to a sidewalk is responsible for daily maintenance like repairs and clearing debris. §19-152 makes it clear that owners of property adjacent to sidewalks are also liable for injuries that result from a failure to maintain said property in a safe condition.
In some cases, the city of New York may repair or replace a damaged curb without charging the property owner, but even then, the burden of maintaining that curb in safe condition belongs to the owners of residential and commercial property next to the public walkway. There does exist an exception for one-, two-, and three-family homes occupied by their owners and used only as residences. When it comes to these properties, the city may be liable for a slip and fall on the contiguous property.