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Uneven sidewalks could be risky for bikers, joggers and others

When people think about sidewalk injuries, they probably think about pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles or perhaps a snow-related slip-and-fall incident. However, the potential risks of sidewalks are not limited to only the winter months. The sidewalks themselves can cause injuries and even deaths to unsuspecting people who are just going about their daily lives.

Uneven sidewalks can be caused by crumbling cement, encroaching roots, frost heave or ground settling. Property owners and business managers should pay close attention to the condition of their sidewalks and make repairs when necessary. Failing to do so result in serious injuries and potential premises liability claims.

Many people could fall victim to uneven sidewalks

While anyone passing by an area with poorly maintained sidewalks could experience an injury, certain populations may be at increased risk. Anyone on a bike, roller skates, roller blades or skateboards could hit that uneven area at high speeds, resulting in a fall or even a tumble into traffic. Similarly, those in wheelchairs or using walkers could fall due to an uneven sidewalk section.

Joggers and other people moving rapidly can also potentially trip and hurt themselves or other people nearby. Small children, the elderly and the visually impaired may not notice the issue until it's too late.

New York law requires owners to maintain sidewalks

There are thousands of miles of sidewalks throughout New York City. It would be impossible for the City to maintain and inspect all of that sidewalk every year or changing season. In order to ensure proper maintenance, the City requires property owners to maintain their own sidewalks.

In some cases, the New York City Department of Transportation may notify property owners when maintenance or repairs are necessary. Owners should be proactive, checking their sidewalks every few weeks or at least every month for signs of damage or disrepair. Making timely repairs to the sidewalk could protect people using the sidewalk, as well as the property owner.

Premises liability holds property owners responsible

If you end up injured because someone else fails to maintain their property, like a section of sidewalk, you should not be subject to financial hardship as a result. Premises liability claims stem from the basic responsibility of property owners to maintain safe facilities. When people fail to maintain property they own and someone ends up hurt, they are responsible for the costs associated with those injuries.

In some cases, homeowners insurance or business insurance policies will provide coverage for the injured party. Other times, someone hurt as a result of another person's failure to maintain a property must take legal action by filing a lawsuit to recoup his or her losses.

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Orin J. Cohen Law
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