New York City's sidewalks are as much a part of the city's identity as the Statue of Liberty or Central Park. These sidewalks pulse with pedestrian life but can often be marred by unexpected defects. Cracks, uneven surfaces, and sudden defects can turn an everyday stroll into a hazardous ordeal. When a sidewalk defect results in an accident, it's essential to understand the subsequent steps and your rights in NYC.
Immediate Steps Post-Accident
Safety and health are paramount. If you or someone else has been injured due to a sidewalk defect, the first course of action should be to seek medical attention. Not only is this critical for health reasons, but medical records will serve as valuable evidence should you decide to pursue a claim.
Documenting the scene is also crucial. If possible, take clear photographs of the defect, the surroundings, and any visible injuries. This evidence can be critical later on. Moreover, if there are witnesses, obtain their contact information, as their testimony can support your case.
Understanding Liability in Sidewalk Accidents
In New York City, determining liability in a sidewalk defect case can be intricate. While the city traditionally held responsibility for the maintenance of sidewalks, changes in legislation now often transfer this duty to adjacent property owners, with some exceptions for one, two, or three-family homes where the owner resides and uses the property for residential purposes.
New York City's Administrative Code Section 19-152 requires property owners to install, repair, and maintain sidewalks.
Section 7-210 of New York City's Administrative Code holds property owners accountable for sidewalk problems that cause injuries. Before a problem leads to a Notice of Sidewalk Violation, property owners should fix their sidewalks.
Therefore, identifying the responsible party is a vital step. You should conduct research or consult a legal professional to ascertain the correct entity to hold accountable, which could be a private owner, a business, or the city itself.
Filing a Notice of Claim
For accidents involving municipal sidewalks, after the incident, a Notice of Claim has to be submitted within ninety days. This notice is a legal document that informs the city of your intention to sue. Strict timelines govern the process, and failing to adhere to them can result in losing your right to compensation. For properties not owned by the city, typical personal injury claims procedures apply, and you would file a claim directly with the property owner's insurance company.
Seek Legal Counsel
It's highly advisable to consult a personal injury attorney experienced in sidewalk accidents. They can navigate the legal complexities, help identify the responsible party, and ensure all paperwork is filed correctly and on time. Furthermore, an attorney can be instrumental in negotiating with insurance companies, they often attempt to minimize payouts or deny claims.
Victims of sidewalk defect accidents may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:
- Medical expenses: Covering both immediate and long-term healthcare costs.
- Lost wages: If the injury results in time away from work.
- Pain and suffering: Physical and emotional distress due to the accident.
- Loss of quality of life: If the injury leads to long-term disability or life alterations.
Investigation and Evidence Gathering
Your legal team will thoroughly investigate the incident. This includes collecting all available evidence, consulting with medical experts to assess your injuries, and potentially working with accident reconstruction specialists. This comprehensive approach is designed to build a robust case on your behalf.
The Litigation Process
Should the case go to court, the litigation process can be lengthy and complex. Both sides present their evidence, and a judge or jury will decide based on the facts presented. Your attorney will argue on your behalf, emphasizing the negligence that led to the accident and the impact of your injuries on your life.
The Role of Comparative Negligence
It's important to note that New York operates under a comparative negligence rule, which means that if you are found partially responsible for the accident, your compensation may be reduced accordingly. For example, if you were texting while walking and didn't notice a clear defect, the defense may argue that your lack of attention contributed to the accident.
Many sidewalk defect cases are settled out of court. Settlement can be a more expedient means of obtaining compensation without the uncertainties of a trial. Your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf to get the fair settlement you deserve. However, your lawyer will take the case to trial if a settlement cannot be reached.
Statute of Limitations
Personal injury claims in New York are subject to a three-year statute of limitations. This means there is just three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. However, this period is significantly shorter when dealing with claims against the city, hence the 90-day deadline for filing a Notice of Claim.
Preventing Future Incidents
While personal recovery is a priority, it's also worth considering the broader community. Reporting the defect to the appropriate New York City department can help prevent future accidents. The city has an obligation to inspect and, if necessary, repair reported sidewalk defects.
A sidewalk defect accident in New York City can be a life-altering event. It's a situation that requires prompt and informed actions to ensure your safety, health, and legal rights are protected. From documenting the incident and seeking immediate medical attention to understanding the complexities of liability and the necessity of timely legal action, every step is crucial.
By knowing your rights and the intricacies of the legal system, particularly the importance of filing a Notice of Claim, you can advocate effectively for the compensation you deserve. Working with an experienced attorney will make a huge difference in navigating these challenging waters.
Get A Free Consultation by Calling Brandon J. Broderick Right Away
If you have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall on a New York City sidewalk, we can help. Contact our New York slip and fall lawyers without delay to ensure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
Our team is here to assist you. Inquire about our services or schedule a no-cost consultation by calling us today.