Can I sue for a trip-and-fall/slip-and-fall injury on a sidewalk in New York?

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Adam D. Cahn - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Adam D. Cahn

Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP
New York, NY
Phone: 212-257-3139
Fax: 212-571-7174

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You can absolutely sue and your chances of a successful outcome are better than ever. For many years, the City of New York was almost exclusively responsible for public sidewalks in Manhattan and the outer boroughs. Then the law changed, which put the responsibility for sidewalks on the private property owner (usually the building owner, not the store fronts) that abuts the sidewalk where you fell. It is that property owner who has a duty to inspect the sidewalks around their building and keep them in good condition. If they allow the sidewalk to remain cracked, raised or misleveled and that causes a pedestrian to fall, then they will be held liable for the injuries that resulted.

Always call a lawyer immediately for advice

Generally, you have three (3) years to bring a lawsuit against a private property owner, but the city may also be liable if an accident happens in a tree well, curb line or other area deemed “special use.” (Special use means that the city uses and manages that part of the walkway for its own benefit.) If the city or a municipal entity is the responsible party then the injury victim would need to file a claim within 90 days.  


To succeed you must show the property owner did something wrong

Of course, a person can’t just trip over their own feet and file a trip-and-fall lawsuit. There must be, as stated above, a noticeable defect in the walkway or a slippery hazard such as loose gravel.  If there is construction taking place, with scaffolding or debris on the sidewalk, that could also constitute a dangerous property condition under New York premises liability law and cause someone to trip.  The same law applies to accidents on sidewalks involving snow and ice. The private property owner has a legal obligation to shovel snow or clear icy patches in a timely and efficient fashion.

These are only the broad strokes of New York law regarding sidewalk injuries. A full answer is much more complex and case-specific. We would have to examine the exact location and the circumstances of the accident to determine who to sue and if you have a viable claim for compensation. Our lawyers would be happy to give you a free consultation if you have been injured because of a dangerous property condition.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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