Sidewalk Defects Lawyer

New York City has over 12,000 miles of sidewalk. Sidewalk defects can present serious risks to pedestrians. Uneven bricks, cracked concrete, loose stones, intrusive vegetation, gaps, and tilts can all cause harmful trip and fall accidents. Every year, falls account for about eight million hospital visits. Bone fractures are the most common types of injuries from these incidents. It is the property owner’s legal duty to notice sidewalk defects and make repairs or warn visitors of the dangerous condition. Failure to do so, resulting in a fall, may constitute negligence. After your sidewalk accident in New York City, your first phone call should be to Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, P.C. to learn your legal rights.

Sidewalk Defect Claims

Municipalities have a duty to keep their streets and sidewalks in safe condition. After any injury caused by a defect in a city sidewalk, you should contact an attorney right away. The success of a premises liability claim based on a sidewalk defect relies on the fact that a dangerous condition actually existed.

Defendants may claim an element that poses only a “minor, trivial, or insignificant risk of injury” does not qualify as a dangerous condition in the eyes of the law. It must create a substantial risk. A common defense strategy in sidewalk defect claims is the trivial-defect doctrine – asserting that the defect posed only a minor risk of bodily injury. If a judge determines the defect was trivial, it releases the property owner from liability on the grounds that it would be reasonable for the defendant not to repair a risk that was only minor.

How small is too small of a defect? New York courts have been dealing with this issue for decades, but the current standard depends on the facts and circumstances in each case.

It is possible to combat the trivial-defect defense by making the size of the defect a matter of inconsequence. There is no size at which a defect is automatically “too small” to create a dangerous condition. The size is just one factor to consider when determining risk. A plaintiff’s attorney could argue that the defect in question is just one hazard in a broader scope of dangerous conditions on the property. This would create a collective risk in which the trivial-defect doctrine would not apply.

The defense may also try to allege comparative negligence for a trip and fall over a defective sidewalk. Comparative negligence refers to the injured party’s own responsibility in causing the accident. If the plaintiff was texting and walking or otherwise not paying attention, the defense might assert that he or she contributed to the trip and fall. In New York, a plaintiff can still receive compensation if he or she was partially at fault. The state’s pure comparative negligence rules make plaintiffs eligible for recovery regardless of percentage of fault.

Why Retain an Attorney?

Suing a property owner, possessor, or the City of New York for a sidewalk defect is no small task. It requires a number of legal processes and elements of proof. A single trip and fall case can involve dozens of state and local laws, as well as several different legal doctrines. You must prove the property owner was negligent in using the land, and that this negligence caused your injuries. You need a team of attorneys to help you work through the factors of a premises liability case. Come to Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, P.C. to discuss your potential case with a competent lawyer. Request a free consultation today.