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Who owns New York City’s sidewalks?

Aug 5, 2016 | Personal Injury

Have you ever walked down the street in New York City, noticed a significant upheaval in the sidewalk or another danger and thought, "Someone should really fix that before someone gets hurt?" With roughly 12,750 miles of sidewalk in our city, it’s bound to happen.

Although you may not realize it at the time, your question actually raises an important issue as well as two additional questions you may have wondered, but never thought to ask: who owns the sidewalks in our city and what happens if that person doesn’t maintain them? Let’s take a look.

Ownership of sidewalks in NYC

Unlike some cities in other states, in NYC, property owners are held responsible for "installing, repairing and maintaining sidewalks adjoining their properties," explains the New York City Department of Transportation. This means that not only is a property owner responsible for their land and building, they also owe a duty of care to the sidewalks in front of their property.

A look at premises liability

Under the body of law known as premises liability, property owners who are aware of a danger but fail to remedy the problem in a timely manner can be held responsible for any accidents, injuries or deaths that danger causes.

Using the example above, if the owner of the dangerous sidewalk does nothing to correct the upheaval and someone trips, falls and becomes seriously injured as a result, then that property owner could be held liable under state premises liability laws.

Seeking compensation for injuries

Paying for the medical treatment of serious injuries caused by someone else’s negligence should not fall on victims. Rather, it is the responsibility of the property owner whose dangerous sidewalk was the cause of the injuries in the first place.

While it may be possible to seek compensation through a property owner’s insurance, in some cases, it may be necessary to take further action, such as fling a personal injury claim against the property owner. Before filing a lawsuit, however, it’s best to speak with an attorney first to determine whether this really is the best option for the situation at hand.