A trip/slip and fall accident on a sidewalk is known as a “premises liability” case. In order to recover, the injured plaintiff must show the jury that the defendant was at fault, or “negligent.” In a sidewalk accident, the plaintiff’s attorney will typically sue the City of New York. The owner of the property adjoining the sidewalk may also be liable. Many different types of hazards cause trip and fall accidents. These hazards include cracks, holes, or raises in the sidewalk. They can also include garbage or debris. Similarly, failure to timely or properly clear snow and ice often causes slip and fall accidents. For all sidewalk accident cases, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the defendant was negligent. He or she must also prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Ownership of the Sidewalk and Administrative Code Section 7-210
Generally, if you fall within City limits, the City of New York owns the sidewalk. However, that does not mean the City is liable for every sidewalk accident. Over 10 years ago, the City passed a law that shifts the duty to maintain certain sidewalks to the adjoining property owner. Under Administrative Code Section 7-210, commercial property owners have a duty to maintain sidewalks adjoining their property. However, this law does not mean that the City cannot be held responsible for a sidewalk accident. The City is still responsible for maintaining and clearing snow/ice on sidewalks in front of public buildings or parks. The City also must properly maintain pedestrian ramps. In all sidewalk accident cases, the sidewalk accident attorney must gather information to piece together who is responsible.
Why Retain a Sidewalk Accident Attorney
It is the attorney’s job to determine who is the negligent party. If the liable party is the City, a Notice of Claim must be filed. Doing so preserves the injured plaintiff’s right to sue. The plaintiff must file a Notice of Claim before suing the City. It must be filed within 90 days of the accident. There are strict requirements as to what makes up a proper Notice of Claim. The injured party should retain an experienced attorney to file this document. Failure to properly file a Notice of Claim can lead to a bar in filing a lawsuit against the City.
A competent sidewalk accident attorney should also send an investigator to examine the defect that caused the fall. The plaintiff should also take pictures of the condition that caused the accident right away. The names and information of witnesses should also be gathered. These witnesses may need to testify at trial.