A raised or broken sidewalk poses a dangerous tripping hazard. Likewise, for a defect or pothole within a crosswalk. A trip and fall accident on a sidewalk or crosswalk defect can result in serious injuries including fractures, torn ligaments, and spinal cord damage. The City of New York has exempted itself from liability "for any injury to property or personal injury, including death, proximately caused by the failure to maintain sidewalks (other than sidewalks abutting one-, two- or three-family residential real property that is (i) in whole or in part, owner occupied, and (ii) used exclusively for residential purposes) in a reasonably safe condition." [New York City Administrative Code 7-210 - Liability Of Real Property Owner For Failure To Maintain Sidewalk In A Reasonably Safe Condition]. Therefore, such commercial property and multi-family apartment owners are now under a duty to maintain the sidewalks abutting their premises. In situations where New York City is still responsible to maintain the sidewalk, the injured party must comply with the notice of claim filing requirements in order to establish the right to bring a claim or lawsuit. A claim against the City of New York must generally be filed within 90 days of the accident, or the injured person will be forever barred from asserting the claim. [General Municipal Law 50-e - Notice of Claim]. In addition, in order to establish liability, the trip and fall victim must establish that the City had prior written notice of the sidewalk or crosswalk defect. [New York City Administrative Code 7-201]. Many times, adequate written notice may be provided to the City by the Big Apple Pothole and Sidewalk Protection Committee. If there is no written notice to the City for a sidewalk or crosswalk tripping defect, there are two exceptions to the written notice law where liability may still be established. The first is where the City of New York made a special use of the sidewalk that caused the defect and derived a benefit from that special use. (The special use exception will be discussed in a separate post). The second is where the City or one of its Mayoral agencies affirmatively created the defect by an act of negligence. Created Sidewalk or Crosswalk Tripping Condition In a situation where the City created the sidewalk or crosswalk defect, the law limits the exception "to work by the City that immediately results in the existence of a dangerous condition. Yarborough v. City of New York, 10 N.Y.3d 726, 882 N.Y.S.2d 261 (2008). This means, for example, that where a sidewalk was repaired or a pothole was patched and the defect developed over time due to environmental wear and tear, the City will not be found liable for the defect. Trip and fall law can be filled with nuisances that the average person might overlook. Over time evidence can be lost and witnesses' memories can fade. Therefore, when someone is injured in a trip and fall accident due to a defect upon a sidewalk for crosswalk, it is important to speak to a competent personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.
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