Articles Posted in Sidewalks

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In New York City, walking is one of the primary means of transportation. In fact, a study released by Fitbit found that New Yorkers walk more than people living in any other major metropolitan city—regardless of the season. However, even walking in the Big Apple can come with hazards. Sunken, cracked, or snow-covered sidewalks create obstacles that can lead to serious injury in a densely populated city. If you are injured due to a poorly maintained sidewalk, here are a few tips to determine who is responsible.

What Types of Issues Fall Under Negligence?

A woman walking down a sidewalk in black heels

Property owners are responsible for maintaining reasonably safe conditions in their entryways, storefronts, and, in most cases, the sidewalks adjacent to their properties. If a defect is identified by the city as a danger to the public, the owner must make the repairs in accordance with section 19-152 of the NYC Administrative Code. The following are examples of flaggable offenses that require service:

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Many people assume that it’s the driver’s fault if they hit a pedestrian. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Pedestrians can also be at fault if they act recklessly.

When Is a Pedestrian at Fault?

People walking across the street in new York City

A pedestrian could be liable for an accident if their negligence caused it. Just like drivers, pedestrians have to be cautious and follow traffic laws. If a pedestrian acts recklessly, they can make it very difficult for drivers to avoid an accident. In these cases, the jury may find the pedestrian liable for the accident.

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New York City has over 12,750 miles of sidewalks. In a city with close to 9 million residents, accidents are bound to happen along these pathways if they are not well maintained. But whose responsibility is it to maintain these sidewalks? This question is especially pertinent when someone suffers an injury and wants to file a lawsuit.

Changes to NYC Sidewalk Maintenance Law

A neighborhood street covered with snow

For a long time, victims of sidewalk accidents would file claims against City Council. However, the City of New York enacted changes in 2003 that transferred the duty of sidewalk maintenance to the owner of properties abutting the sidewalk. In the amended New York City Administrative Code of 2003, Section 7-210 shifts responsibility and liability to adjacent property owners.

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In New York City, crossing the street as a pedestrian can be a bit scary. According to the New York Times, the number of pedestrian fatalities increased from 107 in 2017 to 114 in 2018, with many more injured annually. While the city has implemented a number of safety improvements in an effort to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities, it’s up to pedestrians to know their rights on the road.

Pedestrian Rights at a CrosswalkPeople crossing the street within a crosswalk in New York City

Fortunately, many intersections have crosswalks to help avoid pedestrian accidents. The New York Vehicle and Traffic Law requires pedestrians to obey traffic control signals by waiting for the “WALK” sign or person symbol to appear before crossing. Pedestrians maintain the right of way at intersections without signals. However, drivers always have the right of way on roads without a crosswalk.

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP attorney Edward Averbuch obtains $1,000,000 judgment for client at inquest.  On February 9, 2014, our client was walking along 45th Street in Brooklyn when he slipped and fell on ice on the sidewalk.  As a result of the slip and fall he seriously injured his right shoulder.  Shortly after the incident, our client began a course of physical therapy.  After several months of intensive therapy with little to no improvement, our client’s physicians recommended surgical intervention.  He underwent arthroscopic surgery which is a surgery performed through several small incisions at the surgery site.  Typically a tiny camera will be inserted through one incision and tiny tools will be inserted through two or more other incisions for the surgeon to perform the procedure.  Thereafter, our client began another course of physical therapy, again with little to no improvement.  At that point our client underwent manipulation under anesthesia, which is a procedure where the patient is anesthetized, and the doctor forces the shoulder to move in ways which cause the capsule and scar tissue to stretch or tear.  After a third round of physical therapy, still with little to no improvement, he was recommended to undergo an arthroplasty which is total replacement of the ball and socket of the shoulder.  Typically, the ball is replaced with a metal ball with a stem which pressed to fit into the inside of the humerus (upper arm bone) and the socket is resurfaced with a high-density polyethylene.  Our client underwent a 4th round of physical therapy until his doctors advised him that he reached maximum medial improvement.

Leav & Steinberg filed suit on behalf of our client and the defendants defaulted, which means they did not answer the lawsuit.  Thereafter an inquest hearing was held for the court to determine a reasonable award for the pain and suffering our client has gone through and will continue to go through as a result of his injuries.  At the hearing, Mr. Averbuch presented proof of our client’s injuries and our client testified about his injuries and how this incident has affected him.  At the conclusion of Mr. Averbuch’s presentation, the Honorable Lawrence Knipel entered an award of $1,000,000 on our client’s behalf.

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When Lt. Brendan Connolly a New York City Firefighter was responding to a local emergency, the dangers of being a firefighter were always in the back of his mind.  Smoke, trapped locations, innocent victims needing help.

However, the roads of New York City are often so dilipadated and filled with potholes and ruts that when his fire truck hit a recurring defect in a city street of Cypress Hills, Queens his life would change forever.

As reported here in the New York Post, Lt. Connolly fractured his spine and has been rendered disabled from working because of a sinkhole that has been recurring.  Neighbors report that this problem has been recurring for years.  Yet, the ability to legally recover against the City of New York for this defect is fraught with many hurdles.  Some nearly impossible to overcome.

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One of the most common injuries sustained by those involved in an accident is a back or neck injury.  Many consider these “soft tissue” injuries and the term has been used by insurance companies to diminish the significance of the injury.

In fact, a disc injury which is really a connective tissue injury can be more debilitating and significant than a fracture to a bone.  A fracture can often heal and or calcify.  A disc injury to the spine will never return to the anatomic design it was in before the trauma.

Simply put a herniated disc is a rupture to the intervertebral discs that separate the vertebrae running from the base of our skull to our coccyx or sacrum.  In all we have 33 discs and they act as shock absorbers for the body.  They allow the spine to move, bend, function in a normal way.

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This morning, a terrible tragedy occurred as a crane collapsed in TriBeCa around 8:30 A.M. Early reports indicate that at least one person has been fatally injured, and two others have sustained serious injuries.

The massive crane, operated by Bay Crane, now lays down the path of Worth Street stretching from West Broadway to Church Street.

It appears the crane was working on 60 Hudson Street, a longtime industrial building undergoing renovation to luxury apartments. The crane was parked on Worth Street.

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Appeals coming to fruition now were in the making long before 2015 arrived and the New York Appellate Courts have already decided thirty or so snow and ice cases this year. Many more will be coming. As we prepare for the next big storm that’s coming, let’s examine some general legal issues. For purposes of this blog, we will stick to the basics and not assess each and every fact in detail (quite unlike what this firm does when prosecuting real cases). We will also point out the major caveat that each and every case is unique. A case’s existence and outcome will vary based on a multitude of factors that will not be fully explained in this blog.

Envision this. You are a young attorney who is preparing for trial. On your way to the office last Saturday morning, you slip on the marble floor of your large office building lobby, sustaining serious injuries. Unfortunately for your injuries, there is no case. A vestibule floor that was inherently slippery due to its smoothness is not an actionable defect. See e.g. Beceren v. Joan Realty, LLC, 2015 NY Slip Op 00324 (2nd Dept. 2015).

Next scenario. It’s still Saturday. You receive a surprise flower delivery, but since your office is technically closed and the firm’s secretary is not working, you go down to the lobby to get it. Unbeknownst to you, before you arrive on the scene, the delivery man spills water from the vase onto the floor. You slip on it, sustaining serious injuries. Here, you could establish fault of the flower delivery man and/or the building officials if you can show that they created the spill or had sufficient notice of the wet condition that caused the slip and reasonable time to clean and/or warn. See e.g. Weiss v. Gerard Owners Corp., 22 A.D.3d 406, 803 N.Y.S.2d 51 (1st Dept. 2005).

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Leav & Steinberg, LLP often receives calls from people who trip and fall on a city sidewalk and are injured. One would assume since it is a city sidewalk the city would be solely responsible for the maintenance and repair of the sidewalks. However this is not always the case.

In 2008 a law was passed by the NYC counsel shifting the responsibility to maintain and repair sidewalks to the building owner in most instances. The city is now only responsible to maintain and repair sidewalks adjacent to 1, 2 or 3 family, owner occupied houses. So if you fall on a sidewalk adjacent to a commercial building or high rise Apartment the building owners insurance company is responsible to compensate you for your injuries. However, it is very important to call Leav & Steinberg, LLP immediately after any trip and fall so we can do a complete investigation and protect your rights. If the city is involved a notice of claim must be presented within 90 days.

Leav & Steinberg, LLP has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients who unfortunately fell and got injured after falling on a defective sidewalk. It is always best to call us immediately so we can protect your rights.