In all five of New York City’s boroughs, residents and visitors alike have struggled with the dangerous inconvenience of potholes scattered throughout the city’s streets, sidewalks, and parking lots. With so much land area, it’s nearly impossible for the city or property owners to keep the city free of these hazards.
As of October 16th, the Department of Transportation has repaired 213,405 potholes in the city in 2017. But these dangerous sidewalk and road conditions continue to pop up each day, and sometimes they’re only discovered after someone gets hurt. At any given moment, an unexpected pothole trip and fall can cause serious injuries which may require expensive medical treatment, disrupt your work life, and cause a variety of difficulties in your personal life.
While potholes are usually thought of as a danger to motorists, pedestrians are also at risk of seriously injuring themselves if they stumble into one of these holes. Victims of these injuries may have cases for lawsuits if the city or an abutting landowner failed to meet their obligation to keep their property safe and free of hazards which could injure guests and passersby. These personal injury lawsuits are often the only way trip and fall accident victims can get the financial support they need during recovery.
Who Is Responsible For Fixing Potholes In NYC?
Up until the 1970s, the City of New York could be held directly responsible for injuries caused by poorly maintained streets and sidewalks. In 1974, Mayor Ed Koch passed a law which required victims of pothole accidents to prove that the city’s Department of Transportation had received written notice of the pothole before their accident happened.
These laws changed again in 2003, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg passed a law which holds property owners responsible for maintaining the safety of the sidewalks outside of their businesses. Today, the person who owns the property closest to the sidewalk can be held liable if a pedestrian is injured due to a dangerous condition on the sidewalk.
Can You Sue New York City For Pothole Injuries?
In the large majority of slip and fall cases in New York, the abutting landowner is considered liable if they failed to fix a dangerous condition inside or outside of their properties. But there are some exceptions which allow victims of slip and fall injuries to sue to the City of New York:
- If the accident occurred on property owned by the City of New York, such as a government building; or
- If the building abutting the sidewalk where the accident occurred is a 1-3 family home occupied by the owner and used only as a residence (not a business), the City could be held liable for damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
It can be complicated to determine if a private property owner or the city was responsible for fixing the pothole which caused your injury. Additionally, filing a lawsuit against the government is usually much more difficult than filing one against a private individual. The City faces thousands of lawsuits each year. They have teams of some of the most skilled attorneys in the country, big budgets, and certain legal immunities which can protect them from liability.
Will I Need To Hire A Lawyer If I Want To File A Lawsuit?
Because of the complex nature of these cases, it’s usually wise for victims of pothole trip and fall injuries to be represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer. A skilled lawyer can determine who was responsible for repairing the condition and if they can be held liable in court. In most cases, you’ll need to prove that the pothole existed for a period of time which allowed the landowner (or the city, in some cases) adequate time to fix it.
In most cases, your legal representation will need to prove the following:
- A dangerous pothole existed
- An abutting landowner (or the city) had a duty to fix the pothole
- The abutting landowner had sufficient time to address the pothole and failed to do so
- Your injuries were a result of your pothole trip and fall
If you or a loved one was seriously injured after stumbling in a pothole, our experienced Bronx personal injury lawyers can help you learn more about your legal options in a free consultation.