Who Is Liable for Injuries Caused by a Broken Sidewalk?

Who Is Liable for Injuries Caused by a Broken Sidewalk

According to the Department of Transportation, New York City has over 12,000 miles of sidewalks. Sidewalks play a major role in citizens’ ability to travel around the city. But when they become broken and cracked or fall into disrepair, they can be the source of serious accidents. 

If you experienced an injury due to a broken sidewalk, you may be able to hold the liable party financially accountable. So, who is liable for injuries caused by a broken sidewalk? Consulting a sidewalk accident lawyer can help you know how to proceed. First, review the following information about premises liability and sidewalk responsibility in NYC. 

New York’s Premises Liability Laws

Sidewalk accidents are prime examples of premises liability cases. These cases arise when a person experiences an injury due to a property owner’s negligence.

Premises liability cases must meet the following criteria before a lawyer will consider proceeding with a claim:

  • The property owner owed the victim a duty of care. 
  • The property owner breached that duty of care. 
  • An accident occurred. 
  • The victim experienced an injury from the accident. 

But how do these elements relate to sidewalk accidents? All sidewalks in New York City are the responsibility of the property owner or the local government. The responsible party has a duty of care to maintain the sidewalk and prevent accidents. Neglecting to maintain their sidewalk could leave the party liable for pedestrian safety accidents. 

Just because you tripped on a broken sidewalk does not mean someone owes you money. With the help of a sidewalk accident attorney, you’ll need to prove the above elements to build a premises liability claim and show that the party responsible for the sidewalk is also liable for your injuries. 

Potentially Liable Parties in a Sidewalk Accident

Two main parties are responsible for maintaining sidewalks in NYC and may be liable for a sidewalk accident: the local government and property owners. 

Local Government

The Department of Transportation in New York City maintains the majority of public sidewalks. The department replaces more than two million square feet of sidewalk each year, most of which is on city-owned property. 

If your slip-and-fall injury happened on a sidewalk owned and maintained by the city, the local government may be liable in your premises liability case. 


According to the NYC Department of Transportation, property owners must maintain and repair sidewalks adjoining their properties. Property owners are also potentially liable for injuries due to their failure to maintain their sidewalks.

When a sidewalk on private property becomes damaged, the owner should take the initiative to schedule repairs. If they do not, the city may send them a Notice of Sidewalk Violation, stating that the sidewalk is defective and encouraging the property owner to repair the damage. 

Factors Affecting Who Is Liable 

Many factors may impact who, if anyone, is liable for your sidewalk accident. Before bringing a case against a property owner or the local government, consult a sidewalk accident lawyer to determine whether you have a case. Your attorney will help you explore the following factors:

  • The location of the sidewalk: You and your attorney will need to determine whether the sidewalk is on public or private property. 
  • Who is responsible for the upkeep: Property owners are generally responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to their properties. One exception is when a city-owned tree causes damage to a sidewalk; the city may be liable in this case. 
  • The condition of the sidewalk: Was the sidewalk in poor enough condition to necessitate repair? 
  • The duration of the damage: The property owner should have reasonably had enough time to be aware of the damage to the sidewalk and take steps to mitigate it. 
  • How you were behaving on the sidewalk: If you were horsing around on the sidewalk when the accident occurred, you may not be able to prove that the damage caused your injuries. 

Proving Liability After a Sidewalk Accident

Proving Liability After a Sidewalk Accident

If your sidewalk accident lawyer has determined that someone’s negligence caused your sidewalk accident, you’ll need to collect evidence proving this to be the case. Any of the following may act as valuable evidence in your claim: 

  • Photos and videos of the hazard: You’ll need direct evidence showing the broken sidewalk or a related hazard that caused your accident. 
  • History of complaints: If other people filed complaints against the property owner or city about the broken sidewalk, these can help you show that the liable party was aware of the hazard yet did nothing to mitigate it. 
  • Sidewalk violations: If the city issued a property owner a sidewalk violation before your accident, you can use this to show that the property owner was aware of their broken sidewalk. 
  • Witness testimonies: Testimony from a person who witnessed your accident can go a long way in tying the broken sidewalk to your injuries. 

Much of the evidence in your sidewalk accident case becomes lost after you leave the accident scene. But NYC’s sidewalk accident lawyer can help you collect as much evidence as possible after the fact to support the property owner’s responsibility. 

Contact a Sidewalk Accident Lawyer in the Bronx Today

According to a Jerry Insurance study, New York City is the deadliest city for pedestrians, and broken sidewalks are just one of many hazards pedestrians face. If you experienced an injury from a broken sidewalk in New York, you need an experienced sidewalk accident lawyer to guide your next steps. 

Ross & Hill represents NYC accident victims across a range of personal injury cases, including sidewalk accidents. We can help you hold the liable party accountable and maximize your compensation. 

Contact Ross & Hill today at 718-855-2324 for a free consultation. Then, learn more about liability in ladder-related accidents and other urban hazards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is responsible for sidewalk repair in New York State?

The local government or property owner may be responsible for sidewalk repair in New York State, depending on the location of the sidewalk. The local government is generally responsible for maintaining public sidewalks, while property owners are responsible for the sidewalks adjacent to their premises. 

Can you sue NYC for falling on a sidewalk? 

You may be able to sue the local NYC government for falling on a sidewalk that was the city’s responsibility to maintain. However, your case will likely only be successful if you can show the city knew about the hazard yet failed to mitigate it in a reasonable time. Showing that people previously submitted complaints about the damaged sidewalk can prove this point. 

How long do property owners have to repair a sidewalk after a Notice of Sidewalk Violation?

Property owners have 75 days after the city issues a Notice of Sidewalk Violation to make the necessary repairs. If they have already exceeded this deadline when your injury occurs, you may have a stronger case for negligent action. 

How much compensation can you seek for a sidewalk accident in NYC?

The amount of compensation you can seek for a sidewalk accident in NYC depends on the severity of your injuries and the type of claim you’re submitting. If you’re filing a claim with a property owner’s insurance company, you can only seek up to the policy’s limits. If you’re filing a lawsuit, you can seek compensation for your injuries, time off work, and non-economic expenses like humiliation or pain and suffering.  

Working with a sidewalk accident lawyer in NYC can help you seek the maximum compensation for your broken sidewalk injury. 

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