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Uneven sidewalks could result in major injury or even death

When people think of premises liability in New York, they often think of slip-and-fall accidents or cases of falling ice from tall buildings. One aspects that receives far less attention is the liability associated with sidewalks and their proper maintenance. A lot of people assume that sidewalks are the responsibility of the city, but that is only partially true.

The City of New York is responsible for maintaining sidewalks adjacent to one-, two- or three-story residential homes. Commercial properties, high rises and larger residential properties must maintain their own sidewalks under city code. That can mean that repairs end up put off until something bad happens in front of, behind or next to a property. Thankfully, the law now also requires that properties required to maintain their own sidewalks also have coverage for sidewalk-related injuries and property damage on their liability insurance policies.

Sidewalks needs to be unbroken and even to be safe

People depend on the sidewalks to be safe for a number of reasons. Some people may walk quickly or jog, meaning that broken cement could result in twisted ankles or worse. Other people with compromised mobility need flat and reliable sidewalk surfaces to safely travel throughout New York with a cane, walker, crutches or wheelchair.

Uneven sidewalks that slant, broken pieces of cement and even major divots and cracks each pose their own set of risks for people on sidewalks. Broken bones, injuries to joints, concussions and even deaths can result from improper or neglected sidewalk maintenance. Pedestrians and those using sidewalks for safe travel should not have to worry about injuries or expenses related to them because of someone else's failure to maintain a property.

Broken sidewalks can result in premises liability claims

Whether a broken sidewalk is the result of tree roots, old cement, rapid temperature changes or water damage, owners need to be proactive about addressing issues like cracking and heaving. Failing to do so incurs premises liability.

If someone ends up hurt or property gets damaged as a result of poor sidewalk maintenance, the owner or manager of the adjacent building could be financially responsible. Carrying premises liability insurance protects business owners and building occupants as much as it protects those who wind up hurt due to maintenance issues.

Sometimes, however, a building owner could contest a claim regarding an injury. Other times, someone may have intentionally chosen to ignore the law requiring insurance coverage for exactly this situation. When that happens, people who experienced property damage or serious injuries may need to take legal action against the person or business responsible for maintaining the sidewalk. Doing so may be the only way to recoup losses, such as lost wages and medical bills related to a broken sidewalk injury.

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