“Can I sue New York City if I fall on a sidewalk” is a question we often get. The answer is “yes”, but you will probably have to prove the city had written notice of the defect and failed to repair it. Unfortunately, you often have to rely on the City itself to cough up documentation showing that it knew about the defect in question before the City can be held liable if someone is hurt because of the sidewalk’s condition.
Not only must the City “know” about it, but NYC usually needs to have been notified of the defect in writing. This is certainly not a simple task, and sometimes requires that the City actually provide you what it has, knowing the consequences of its exchange. Proving that the City knew about a defect is not getting any easier. In a 2014 decision, the Appellate Division, First Department in Abott v. The City of New York, ruled that repair orders which show that the City knew about a defect at a location, but then went ahead and repaired it, are inadequate to prove that the City knew about a defect as all the City is deemed to have notice of is the fact that the area was repaired. In other words, after the City tells us they know about a defect, we have to take the City’s word for it when they say they repaired it – even if a defect is later found at the location.
Once the City shows that they have “repaired, closed, and made safe” the defect, they are no longer charged with being on notice of any defect at all, and they require new documentation, in writing, showing that there is a defect at the location before they are held responsible.
You can read the case at:
Contact our Negligence Team for more information on what your legal rights are if you have fallen and been injured on a sidewalk or street.