If you fall and get injured on a sidewalk, you may think that it’s the city’s fault. After all, who else would be responsible for maintaining the safety of our public sidewalks? The answer to this question is actually surprisingly complicated, which means that the city is not actually always to blame for an accident on public sidewalks. A New York sidewalk accident lawyer from our firm can tell you more.
When Can the City Be Held Responsible for Accidents on Public Sidewalks?
The thing that many of our clients do not expect to hear when they get hurt on a sidewalk is that most of the public sidewalks in New York City are actually not maintained by the city itself. Most of the time, a property owner is responsible for keeping the nearby sidewalk safe.
The exception is when public sidewalks are located near a residential home. If it is a one-, two-, or three-family home and the owner lives there, the city can be held liable for an accident on the nearby sidewalk. It is especially important to hold the city accountable if they had known about the defect in the sidewalk and failed to fix it in a reasonable time frame.
Can I Be Blamed For Getting Hurt on Public Sidewalks?
You do have to be careful though. The city will often try to turn things around on you, blaming you for getting injured. New York is a comparative negligence state, which means that both the plaintiff and the defendant could be held partly responsible for the accident. Being considered even slightly at fault can reduce your total award.
Here’s what we mean. You win your case and the jury awards you $200,000 in damages. However, the jury also determined that you were 20% responsible for your own fall because you were paying attention to your smartphone at the time. Instead of winning $200,000 you get 80% of that, or $160,000.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me?
You are not required to hire an attorney, but one can help with your personal injury case in many different ways. Your lawyer can:
- Field settlement offers and calculate fair compensation
- Handle all communications on your behalf
- Gather evidence and talk to witnesses
- Defend you from accusations of fault or wrongdoing
- Answer any questions that you have
- Help you keep track of court dates and important deadlines
Schedule Your Initial Consultation
If you are ready to pursue a personal injury case against the city, you do not have to do it on your own. Contact Zlotolow & Associates and schedule a consultation with our team. We would love to tell you more about how we can be of assistance.