Sidewalk Fall Accidents Lead To Liability Questions

Sidewalk fall accidents are not an uncommon event on the streets of New York, but few are as serious or frightening as one that recently occurred in Queens. A pedestrian was waiting for a bus on a public sidewalk, when the concrete she was standing on suddenly gave way, sending her crashing into a cavernous space below.

The woman told reporters after the accident that her 400-pound size saved her life and a thinner woman would surely have died from the fall. She actually became stuck inside the cavern, rather than falling all the way to the bottom. The FDNY used a crane and cargo net to hoist her out of the hole. The woman, who is also 6-foot, 5-inches tall, stated she was standing on the location less than 10 seconds before the concrete collapsed.

Vault cellar located, building violations noted

The woman was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she was later discharged with a broken arm and multiple cuts and bruises all over her face and neck. An inspection by the City Department of Buildings revealed a vault cellar located directly under the broken sidewalk area. The cellar features broken steel doors and a loose first-floor staircase.

The website for the Department of Buildings suggested numerous building code violations associated with the building adjacent to the accident. In 2011, a complaint was issued stating the building façade was coming loose. The owner of the building was issued another violation after the sidewalk accident, for failure to properly maintain the building.

Premise liability in sidewalk fall accidents

Slip and fall injuries are often referred to as premise liability claims, because the responsibility for the accident could lie with the owner of the building or premises. To determine premise liability, the victim of the accident must be able to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • The owner of the property created the hazardous condition
  • The property owner knew of the hazardous condition, and did nothing to repair it
  • The condition was present for a significant amount of time, offering ample opportunity for the property owner to address the problem

In some sidewalk fall accidents, liability can also be determined if the building owner was in violation of specific codes or statutes. For example, in the case of the Queens woman, the property owner had received prior notices of violations before the accident occurred.

Hire a New York personal injury attorney

Determining responsibility in these cases can be challenging, which is why it is important for victims of sidewalk falls to be represented by an experienced New York personal injury attorney. The Sanders Firm specializes in slip and fall injuries from such accidents and can help secure justice for those who suffered harm.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a slip and fall accident, contact The Sanders Firm for assistance. We work with New York residents in Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan to help them fight for their legal rights. We help victims get the compensation they need and deserve. Call toll-free for your free case evaluation: 1.800.FAIR PLAY (1.800.324.7752). ResourcesNew York Post, 400-Pound Woman Who Plunged Through Sidewalk Says Size Saved Her Life