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New York and New Jersey Sidewalk Fall Accidents

emergency room signIf you are an unfortunate victim of an injury caused by a sidewalk fall in New York City or New Jersey, it may be that you are searching for a competent lawyer who can help you decipher the confusing maze of rules and regulations pertaining to such situations. Sidewalk fall cases are, surprisingly, frequently complicated matters. This is largely due to recent shifts in the law and efforts to shift responsibility for hazardous defects.

The good news is that a New Jersey slip and fall attorney with Eisbrouch Marsh is prepared to conduct a comprehensive investigation of your case, explore the possibility of filing a claim on your behalf and fight for the compensation to which you are entitled. We pledge to work tirelessly to secure justice and accountability for you and your family.

Typical causes of sidewalk accidents

The sorts of injuries resulting from sidewalk trip and falls are numerous, as are the circumstances and conditions leading to them.

Some of the most common injuries produced by these types of accidents include:

  • Broken bones
  • Neck injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Death

While many immediately think of ice, snow and unusually raised portions of concrete as the main causes of sidewalk falls, there are many other types of hazards regularly encountered on public pathways, such as:

  • Large cracks
  • Loose bricks or pavers
  • Metal grates able to snag shoe heels
  • Irregularly graded wells and pits surrounding landscaping
  • Metal doors or openings set into sidewalk surfaces which are not fully closed

The above list is far from exhaustive, as there are countless ways in which NYC and New Jersey residents can sustain severe injuries while traveling over sidewalks. At Eisbrouch Marsh, we have a long record of zealously guarding the rights of pedestrians across the region and have built an expansive network of investigators, economic loss experts and medical professionals who will work together to mount the best possible case on your behalf.

Sidewalk liability rules in NYC

There have been many twists and turns in the story of precisely who is legally responsible for defective sidewalks in New York City, with important developments occurring just recently. It used to be that the city was itself liable whenever an individual suffered an injury due to a defective sidewalk. Beginning in 1974, potential plaintiffs needed to demonstrate that they provided the Department of Transportation prior written notice of the alleged defect in order to seek compensation. This was a high bar indeed, and many injury victims simply could not overcome it.

To counter these obstacles to recovery, the Big Apple Pothole Protective Committee was formed to develop surveys of all sidewalks and crosswalks in New York City as a means to provide the requisite written notice of defects. Maps were created annually, listing multiple thousands of defective walkways. In 2003, however, the New York City Administrative Code was amended to relieve city government from responsibility for sidewalk defects in a significant number of situations. Only two exceptions were carved out, namely when the City itself is the land owner of the area in question, and also when the abutting structure is a 1-3 family residential home occupied by its owner. The Big Apple surveys no longer played a key role, as only constructive notice of defects, rather than written notice, would be the standard.

Potential plaintiffs should keep in mind that NYC still retains responsibility for defects existing in roads and crosswalks, and written notice is still required to be provided in those situations. Neighborhood advocacy groups, community boards and other organizations routinely submit written complaints about dangerous conditions and log books are kept by the city of all claims and communications regarding them.

Attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh will do everything possible to research the defects which led to your injury and leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring that all filing requirements are met, including observing the 90-day time limit imposed by the city’s Law Department or complying with the 3-year limitations period for actions against non-municipal defendants.

New Jersey sidewalk liability law

The situation regarding liability in New Jersey sidewalk fall cases is rather muddy, largely due to the complex and often inconsistent rules and ordinances existing in communities throughout the state. In the past, cities and towns bore the responsibility for maintaining safe sidewalks as well as liability in the event a defect caused injury. All of that changed in 1972 with the passage of the Tort Claims Act. Now, municipalities in New Jersey have the ability to pass ordinances mandating that homeowners repair, maintain and perform snow and ice removal on walkways, though there are many cities and towns which do not. Also troubling is the fact that some localities that do have such ordinances on the books do a poor job of enforcing them uniformly, if at all.

Further complicating matters in New Jersey is the fact that when a pedestrian falls as a result of defective or dangerous conditions on a sidewalk, it is only a commercial property owner who may be found liable, never a residential homeowner or governmental entity. This is true no matter how dangerous the conditions or how severe the resulting injuries actually were. Indeed, this controversial point of law was recently upheld by a ruling from the state’s Supreme Court, making the landscape for injury victims and their lawyers even more frustrating.

This odd patchwork of ordinances has led some observers to reach the conclusion that there are numerous sidewalks in the state for which nobody can truly be held liable, and areas in which the party to which liability could attach actually changes every few feet. Furthermore, residential property owners are not usually liable for defects or hazardous ice and snow accumulations, but they may be liable if they attempt to address such issues but do so in a way that exacerbates the danger.

Given the incredible amount of ambiguity surrounding liability in New Jersey sidewalk fall cases, a seasoned premises liability attorney in NJ can be an invaluable ally in your quest for justice.

Compensation for sidewalk fall victims

While the process of initiating a sidewalk accident lawsuit in New York City or New Jersey may be somewhat cumbersome, the available compensation for those who prevail can be significant.

It is often possible for plaintiffs to recover payments for losses such as:

  • Current, past and future medical expenses
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation services
  • Accessibility modifications of the home
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of marital relationships
  • Emotional distress

Slip fall lawyers representing New Jersey and NYC residents

The attorneys of Eisbrouch Marsh understand the upheaval and agony a sidewalk accident injury can cause in the lives of victims as well as their family members. Our practice has been built upon an enduring commitment to the rights of those harmed by the negligence of others, and we promise to seek maximum compensation for every client we serve in Hackensack and Paramus as well as Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Morris, Middlesex and Essex counties.

If you would like to schedule a no-cost initial consultation, contact us by calling 201-977-6765. Whether you are located in northern New Jersey or any of New York City’s five boroughs, we look forward to helping you get on the road to ultimate healing and recovery.

  1. NJ.com, Amid slippery laws, towns take a stand on sidewalk repairs, www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/07/amid_slippery_laws_towns_take.html 
  2. The New York Times, Ruling Deals a Setback to Sidewalk Injury Lawsuits in New York, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/nyregion/04pothole.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 
  3. The New York Times, YOUR HOME; Sidewalk Liability Hits Home, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/05/realestate/your-home-sidewalk-liability-hits-home.html 
  4. New York City DOT, New York City Administrative Code Sidewalk Rules, www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/infrastructure/19-152.shtml