Trips, slips, and falls on sidewalks are legally governed by the New York City Administration Code. That code imposes liability or responsibility on the owners of the real property adjacent to or abutting the sidewalk. That means that the owner of the building near the sidewalk is liable for a slip, trip, or fall accident, if the owner failed to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. The owner is responsible to a pedestrian for a personal injury that results from a failure to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. The owner is required to fix the sidewalk, to repair, to repave, to replace part, or all of the sidewalk if is broken, elevated, has a hole, or similar condition.
An owner can also be liable for failing to remove snow, ice or other material from the sidewalk.
In order to hold the owner liable and negligent for an accident involving a condition on a sidewalk, generally speaking, the defect must be present for a long enough period of time for the owner to have repaired it.
The above does not apply to sidewalks accidents adjacent to one, two or three family residences where the responsibility for the happening of the accident still resides with the City of New York, and where the rules require prior written notice.
Legal Tip: If you are seriously injured as a result of a defect on a sidewalk, take pictures showing the defect immediately. Also take photos to show the location of the defect by taking photos that show the background behind or adjacent to the sidewalk.