What is the New York law for a broken or icy sidewalk?

New York City’s streets can be a dangerous place for pedestrians, bicyclists and people in motor vehicles. One place that is expected to be safe is the sidewalk. However, when there is a broken or icy sidewalk and a person falls suffering injuries, there is frequently confusion as to who is responsible for it. The law has certain criteria when it comes to premises liability for the sidewalk of a property. Those who have suffered a fall and been injured or lost a loved one to a fatal accident need to understand how this is viewed under the law.

The property owner must maintain a safe condition of the sidewalk including the intersection quadrant if the property is on the corner. If there is an injury or death on the property because the owner did not maintain the sidewalk in the reasonably safe condition, the owner will be considered liable. This will include repairing, repaving, reconstructing, or replacing a sidewalk with a defect. It also includes removing snow, ice, dirt or anything else on the sidewalk.

The city is not considered liable if there is an injury or death to a person or damage to property if a sidewalk is not maintained in a reasonably safe condition. These laws are not in effect if the property is a residential real property for one, two or three families and is partly or in whole occupied by the owner and used as a residence. Owners have responsibilities for repairs of sidewalks and lots and must pay for installation, construction, repaving, reconstruction, or repairs of the front of the property and the intersection quadrant if it is on the corner. If there is a vacant lot, fences must be repaired, and other repairs must be made to ensure safety.

Trip hazards, loose areas, slope issues, failure to drain properly, a lack of integrity in the structure, and other issues must all be fixed at the owner’s expense and done so in the manner dictated by the City of New York. It is not unusual for a person to fall on a sidewalk for a variety of reasons, but if the fall occurred due to dangerous conditions on the sidewalk, the property owner can be held responsible. Discussing a potential legal case with an attorney is the first step to being compensated after a fall.

Source:, “7-210 – Liability of real property owner for failure to maintain sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition.,” accessed on July 15, 2015


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