Sidewalks help make New York walkable. Municipalities all around the state have miles of sidewalks for pedestrians to utilize. For the most part, sidewalks are safe and accessible. However, they can sometimes expose people to injury risk.
Many people think of sidewalk slip-and-fall incidents when they think of safety hazards while walking. Specifically, people may imagine a scenario in which a property owner has failed to remove ice and snow during the winter months. People can slip and end up severely injured as a result. Sidewalks can also lead to trip-and-fall incidents when there are maintenance issues with the pavement of the sidewalk in question.
Why do sidewalk trip-and-falls occur?
A sidewalk should be a smooth and even walking surface. The need to adjust for changes in elevation is one reason why sidewalks consist of many small pieces of cement. However, factors ranging from frost heave to root incursion can make sections of sidewalks uneven. Sometimes, age and stress lead to a section of sidewalk breaking into multiple pieces.
When one section of sidewalk is far higher or lower than the section next to it, there is a risk that pedestrians could trip and fall. Anyone is susceptible to such circumstances, but poorly-maintained sidewalk is particularly dangerous for those in wheelchairs and on crutches. People may not be able to see the uneven surfaces and could end up breaking bones, suffering brain injuries or even rolling into traffic because of the condition of the sidewalk.
Who is liable for a sidewalk trip-and-fall?
Most municipalities, including Oneonta, New York, have very clear rules for sidewalk maintenance. Typically, it is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to care for the sidewalk. Not only do they need to remove snow and ice as it accumulates, but they also need to repair damaged sections of sidewalk.
They may need to hire professional services to replace uneven or crumbling sections of sidewalk. The failure to do so puts the property owner at risk of liability should someone trip and fall on the sidewalk that is adjacent to their property. Those hurt by uneven sidewalk may choose to pursue a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner.
Learning more about rules in New York can help people determine if they have grounds upon which to pursue legal action after sustaining an injury on someone else’s property.