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Unfortunately, New York City and the surrounding areas contain many potential dangers for pedestrians. One of those dangers can occur when a sidewalk is not properly maintained. An improperly maintained sidewalk can become uneven, cracked, or otherwise potentially harmful for those using it. If you trip and fall on a sidewalk, you may be able to recover damages for the harm you suffer due to the fall. To do that, though, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve presented the right proof and sue the right people or entities. A knowledgeable New York trip-and-fall attorney can help you as you strive to make your case.
The location of your sidewalk accident can be a very important part of your case. Take, as an example, the case of a pedestrian named José, who was walking in Manhattan when he tripped, fell, and was injured. The place where José tripped and fell was along a boundary area where a pedestrian ramp met the adjoining sidewalk.
If José had tripped and fell while walking along the pedestrian ramp, he would need to sue the city for these damages, since the city bears the legal responsibility for maintaining the pedestrian ramp. If, however, the hazard that tripped José and led to his fall was located on the sidewalk, he may need to sue someone other than the city. The law says that the responsibility for the maintenance of sidewalks falls upon certain property owners whose properties abut that stretch of sidewalk.
Since José’s accident took place in an area near the spot where the ramp and the sidewalk met, he was allowed to sue the owner of the property that was next to the sidewalk. Without clear proof that the man undoubtedly fell on the ramp, the property owner could not make its case that it could not possibly be liable.
The court that ruled in favor of José also pointed out that there was another way that the property owner could owe damages to the man. If he proved that the property owner failed to maintain the sidewalk properly and that this failure created a tripping hazard between the sidewalk and the ramp, the property owner might still owe José for the harm that he suffered.
Thus, it makes a difference whether your accident occurred on a pedestrian ramp or on a sidewalk. It also pays to understand what qualifies as part of the sidewalk and what is considered part of the ramp. A case from early last year helped with that issue. A pedestrian, Mercedes, fell along a sidewalk near a pedestrian ramp. The property owner tried to argue that the entire ramp, the landing, and the corner quadrant next to the ramp’s landing counted as part of the ramp (which would have made it the city’s responsibility). The court in Mercedes’ case ruled that this was not correct. The court looked at the relevant regulations and concluded that the corner quadrant was part of the sidewalk, rather than part of the ramp.
What you can take away from José’s and Mercedes’ cases is that very small details can make very important differences in your sidewalk trip-and-fall case. You need to retain skilled counsel who can help you accumulate the evidence you need and advance an argument that will end with a successful outcome. The knowledgeable New York City premises liability attorneys at the law offices of Jacob Oresky have been helping injured pedestrians throughout the New York metro area, including in Westchester County and on Long Island, for many years. Find out how we can help you.
For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call our office at 718-993-9999. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Photo Credit: jlynne (Own work), [CC0 License], via Pixabay