In Queens and throughout New York City, long walking commutes are a part of daily life. Every day, millions of locals leave their homes and walk through their neighborhoods and to and from subway and bus stops all across the city. Unfortunately, not all sidewalks and walking paths in Queens are maintained as carefully as they should be. Property owners frequently allow broken or uneven sidewalks to go untreated, and countless pedestrians end up getting injured in slips, trips, and falls.
What Is Premises Liability?
Property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises safe from potential hazards. This includes both the interiors and exteriors of properties. When a passerby gets injured after tripping or slipping and falling on a dangerous sidewalk, the property owner can be held liable for damages under the legal doctrine known as premises liability.
Examples of dangerous conditions which must be addressed in a timely manner include:
- Broken and uneven sidewalks
- Sidewalks covered with ice or snow
- Uncleared leaves, especially wet leaves which create a slick surface
- Inadequate lighting
If you believe that one of these hazards directly contributed to your slip and fall injuries, you should consider meeting with a lawyer to discuss the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit.
Queens Broken Sidewalk Trip & Fall Lawsuits
If a property owner neglected their duty to maintain a safe property and you got injured as a result, you may be able to seek financial compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. In order to file a lawsuit, you must prove the following three things:
- You were a lawful guest on the property and not trespassing.
- The owner was negligent in addressing the unsafe condition, meaning that they knew or should have known about the danger but did not fix it or warn guests of it.
- This negligence directly caused your injury.
If you meet these three criteria, you may seek financial compensation for all injury-related damages, including: medical bills, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering. In the state of New York, you have up to three years after the date of your injury to file a lawsuit. Proving a property owner’s negligence can be difficult, but an experienced premises liability attorney can help you to gather the evidence you need for a successful lawsuit.
Is The City Ever Liable For Sidewalk Hazards?
In some situations, the city or state may be liable for injuries which occurred on public sidewalks. Just like with lawsuits against private property owners, you must prove that the municipality’s negligence directly lead to your injuries. In order to establish negligence in these cases, you and your lawyer must prove that a government agency had written notice of the conditions before your accident. Furthermore, the government must have had a reasonable amount of time to fix the dangerous conditions, but failed to do so.
If you can prove that the government knew about a dangerous sidewalk and failed to fix it, then you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the municipality responsible for the sidewalk. In September of 2006, a Queens woman received a settlement worth $2.25 million after she fell on a dangerous sidewalk outside of a health clinic. The hospital corporation received a violation notice for the sidewalk three years before the woman got injured.
There is a separate statute of limitations for lawsuits against the city – you must file a notice of claim within 90 days before filing a lawsuit, and you have up to one year and 90 days after the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
In many cases, you will still be suing a landowner even if the city owns the broken sidewalk where you fell. This is because in Queens, abutting landowners often assume responsibility for maintaining safe premises. Liability widely varies in these cases, so it’s usually necessary to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can evaluate the unique conditions of your accident.
What To Do After A Sidewalk Trip & Fall
If you’ve recently been injured in a sidewalk trip and fall, you should seek medical attention first. It’s important to have your injuries evaluated and treated by a trusted medical professional. This will help to begin the healing process and prevent further complications. Medical records are also an important piece of evidence in a personal injury lawsuit.
You should also photograph the sidewalk where you fell. These photographs will act as evidence of the dangerous conditions which lead to your injuries.
Finally, you should speak with an attorney before you speak with anyone else. The property owner’s insurance company may have a representative call you. These reps are trained to find ways to limit or deny coverage. Without legal counsel, you may say something which makes it more difficult to file a successful personal injury claim.
At Lipsig Queens, our lawyers are more than happy to evaluate your situation in a free consultation. If you decide to file a lawsuit, we will only ask for payment if we successfully arrive at a settlement or favorable verdict for you. This way, you don’t have to worry about payment until after you’ve received the compensation that you deserve.