Since 2003, the City of New York holds property owners responsible for injuries caused by unsafe sidewalk conditions, such as improperly maintained or icy sidewalks. This law is intended to protect the City from liability for injuries caused by a property owner's failure to keep the sidewalks in good condition.
Property owners are responsible for the condition of sidewalks next to their property. They must keep the sidewalks in good repair and free of snow, ice, dirt and other refuse and materials. This legal requirement also applies to the intersection quadrant and pedestrian ramps for corner properties.
Property owners must fix potential hazards and pay for any needed repaving, repair or reconstruction. For example, owners are required to repair a tripping hazard caused by uneven pavement between an adjacent sidewalk or where the water collects and does not drain to the curb.
Property owners are also required to purchase liability insurance to pay for any legal judgments for injuries incurred on these sidewalks. Owners should keep all records documenting inspections, repairs and cleanings to show that they acted reasonably before an accident occurred and take photographs or videos to properly record the sidewalk's condition.
However, this law does not govern one-two- or three-family residential properties that are owner-occupied and used only as residences. The City may have potential liability for injuries suffered on sidewalks abutting these residential properties.
The City inspects sidewalks throughout New York to ensure that they are in a safe condition. Specific criteria are used for the location of inspections, such as blocks where injuries were reported or where complaints were filed with the City. Inspectors also consider when the area was last surveyed for sidewalk defects. No fines are issued for violations which may, nevertheless, impede the sale or refinancing of the property.
An experienced attorney may assist a pedestrian who is injured on a badly maintained, slippery or broken sidewalk and help determine who is liable for these injuries. Victims of these accidents may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and other losses.