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Sidewalk Injuries

Matthew Mosher Sept. 11, 2023

In New York State, the responsibility for maintaining and repairing sidewalks can be a complex issue. The liability shifting provisions act to determine who should be held accountable for injuries or damages caused by sidewalk defects. These provisions establish guidelines regarding the responsibility of property owners, tenants, and the local municipalities.

The most important issue is that differing municipalities have different rules regarding liability for defects on public property like sidewalks. In certain cities, the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance rests solely with the contiguous property owner. This means that if a defect exists on a sidewalk adjacent to a private property, the owner of that property is generally liable for injuries or damages resulting from the defect.

However, the situation is not the same in every city. In some cities, liability for sidewalk defects is primarily placed on the local municipalities. Many cities have not yet adopted guidelines shifting liability to the adjacent private landowners. Further, many of those cities have adopted “actual written notice” provisions shielding those municipalities from liability unless a citizen has provided written notice of the specific defect to the municipality before the fall and injury occur. This is often a difficult standard to meet.

Additionally, it's worth mentioning that the liability shifting provisions may also depend on the type of property involved. For example, residential property owners may have different responsibilities compared to commercial property owners. It is advisable to consult local laws and regulations or seek legal advice when dealing with specific cases.

The liability shifting provisions in New York State for sidewalk defects differ widely from city to city.. In Niagara Falls, New York for instance, property owners are generally responsible for sidewalk maintenance, while in other municipalities, the liability falls on the local government. Exceptions and limitations exist, such as local ordinances that shift responsibility onto property owners, actual written notice provisions, and special use exceptions. Understanding these provisions is crucial for determining liability in cases of sidewalk defects and seeking appropriate legal recourse if necessary. The lawyers at Viola, Cummings, Lindsay LLP can help you sort through all these legal issues after a sidewalk injury and fight for the compensation you deserve.