Who Is Responsible For Repairing Broken Sidewalks In New York?

There are almost 13,000 miles of sidewalks in the state of New York for millions of pedestrians to use every day. While walking to a destination is a wonderful way to “go green” and help the environment, sidewalks can and do have structural issues. While an uneven surface or crack might not seem like a big deal, it has the capability of causing a pedestrian to trip and fall.

Victims Know How Devastating A Fall Can Be

pedestrian walking on a sidewalk

How many times do kids fall and skin their elbows and knees? Falls happen and sometimes, the person is able to just get back up, brush themselves off, and maybe, at most, need to get a band-aid to cover a scrape. But that’s not always the case.

Thousands of people go to the emergency room every single year to be treated for injuries they sustained when they slipped and fell on a broken sidewalk. The injuries that are being treated aren’t fixed with some stitches or a few days rest. Instead, the patients usually have to undergo numerous treatments which cost them thousands of dollars to treat conditions such as:

Spinal Damage

Damaged nerves, trauma to the spinal cord, and fractured or dislocated vertebrae can result in partial or full paralysis, chronic pain or tingling, loss of sensation, and changed in fine motor skills.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Even with the hard outer layer of the skull, a blow to the head can cause damage to the soft tissue of the brain. While some patients are able to recover with no long-lasting complications, many are left with changes to their speech, fine motor functions, memory, and may even remain in a coma for some time.

Deep Lacerations

Sometimes a victim of a slip and fall lands on a sharp object which can cause a serious puncture wound, piercing vital organs or cutting through tendons and nerves.

Broken Bones

uneven bricks in a sidewalkAt a minimum, a broken bone takes weeks to heal. If complications arise, like an infection or a disunion of the bone, surgeries, physical therapy, and even amputation may occur. This, of course, extends the amount of time the patient may have to spend away from work healing or can mean that they are unable to return to their chosen career at all.

Crush Injuries

You might be thinking “How could a slip & fall cause a crush injury?” and that is a good question. The fact is, that one a fall starts, it’s very difficult to reverse and the victim usually doesn’t have time to control where they land. Sometimes, the landing spot is in a very dangerous location – the street where oncoming traffic may not be able to stop and the victim ends up being hit by a car.

Although the victims may not realize it, if a broken sidewalk caused their fall, they may be able to file a lawsuit that could provide them with financial compensation.

Who Are Broken Sidewalk Lawsuits Filed Against?

According to the New York Administrative Code, Section 19-152, property owners are responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalks adjoining their property. For sidewalks not adjoining a property, the Department of Transportation is responsible.

This means that if a defect occurs, for example, changes to the concrete because of tree root growth, shifting ground, collapse, or if patchwork falls apart, the property owner or the DOT is responsible for finding the issue in a timely manner and having it corrected. If time is expected to pass before the repair can be made, a warning sign should be constructed around the area.

If the responsible party fails to correct the issue, they can be held legally responsible for any injuries that occur as a result.

How Can A Victim Find Out How Long The Defect Was Present?

Due to the fact that a defendant must have been given a reasonable amount of time to find the issue, it can be beneficial to determine how long the defect was present before the accident occurred. An experienced attorney can find out if the DOT, who sends out staff members to inspect sidewalks, informed a property owner that repairs needed to be made or if the DOT had records on their own property needed repairs. It may also be possible, depending on the location of the sidewalk, to obtain a copy of video surveillance from days or even weeks before which gives photographic evidence that the hazard was present for an extended period of time.

What Will Compensation Cover?

Compensation, which can come in the form of a settlement or verdict, may cover the plaintiff’s past and expected future medical expenses, lost earnings, physical pain and suffering, and emotional trauma.

How Do I Know What My Future Expenses May Be?

This is an excellent question. Although it’s impossible to know the exact amount a plaintiff may have to spend on future medical expenses, an estimate can be obtained. Our firm works with medical experts who go over our client’s medical condition and determines all possible future treatments they may need, including the potential costs of those treatments.

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