If you don't own your home, you may not be aware that sidewalks are maintained not by the city, but by the people who own the property abutting them. If you suffer an injury due to broken, slanting, or otherwise poorly installed or maintained sidewalks, the city is not liable for your injuries. Instead, it is the property owner who may be held liable for any damages you incurred as a result of improperly maintained sidewalks. Sidewalk maintenance is critical to city safety and accessibility.
The law is clear that owners must maintain sidewalks that are safe, even and clear of obstructions. Unfortunately, many property owners and landlords do not live up to this responsibility. They may fail to clear ice and snow during winter months. When the sidewalk settles or buckles due to age or weather changes, they may delay repairing or replacing the damaged sidewalk for as long as they can. This, in turn, can result in serious injuries to those who attempt to utilize those sidewalks.
Sidewalks are a critical component of city infrastructure
Sidewalks are part of what make a city livable. For many people, they are a primary means of transportation. A substantial number of people in New York rely on walking and public transportation as their primary means of navigating this city. A failure by building owners or property managers to property maintain a section of sidewalk can have a profound impact on a community even before an injury. Damaged, uneven sidewalks pose a risk to many people, particularly those with compromised mobility due to medical issues.
It can be incredibly difficult and exhausting to need to maneuver around uneven sections of pavement in a wheelchair, on crutches or with a cane. Those who are blind may be at significantly increased risk of injury in areas where sidewalks are poorly maintained. People of all sorts deserve to live in a city that is safe and navigable. Sidewalks are a critical part of allowing people to move freely through a city. As such, their maintenance shouldn't be an afterthought, as it too often is with business owners.
An attorney can help after a sidewalk injury
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries as the result of poorly maintained sidewalks, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you determine if the courts will find the property owner liable for the injuries you or a loved one sustained as a result of their negligence. He or she can also help you document the issues with maintenance, along with your losses, including medical expenses and lost wages, to help with a civil lawsuit or negotiations with an insurance company.