Who Can Be Held Liable for an NYC Sidewalk Defect?

Rough old paving blocks way. Old broken Cobblestone road near the main road.

Navigating the bustling sidewalks of New York City can often feel like a daring adventure. However, it should not involve tripping over a cracked concrete slab, stumbling into a pothole, or getting hurt by any other defect.

A sidewalk defect can cause serious injuries, leading to significant medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and other losses. But who is responsible when a pedestrian is injured because of a sidewalk defect in NYC? The answer is more complex than you might think.

NYC Sidewalk Defect Laws

To understand sidewalk defect liability in NYC, we must turn to New York City Administrative Code Section 7-210. This law places the onus of maintaining sidewalks in a safe condition squarely on the shoulders of property owners. The code states that property owners (excluding one-, two-, or three-family residential properties that are owner-occupied and used exclusively for residential purposes) have the legal responsibility to install, repair, replace, and generally maintain the sidewalks abutting their property.

Parties Who Can Be Held Liable for Sidewalk Accidents

Property owners typically bear responsibility for injuries resulting from sidewalk accidents in New York City. They must ensure the sidewalks adjacent to their property are safe and free from hazardous conditions, such as uneven surfaces, loose debris, and significant cracks. If an individual suffers an injury due to such conditions, the property owner may be legally liable for any resulting losses.

The City of New York itself can also be held accountable, but the circumstances are more limited. For example, when the city has received a notification about a defect but fails to address it within a reasonable time, or in cases involving sidewalks adjacent to city-owned properties, the city can be held liable.

Contractors could also be liable in certain circumstances. Contractors in charge of sidewalk maintenance or construction projects may also be responsible for injuries resulting from their negligent work. If a hazardous condition arises due to a contractor’s failure to perform their work correctly, they can face legal action.

Exceptions to Liability

There are exceptions to the rules about when these parties can be held liable for losses resulting from sidewalk defects. Liability may not apply if the property owner had no prior notice of the defect. Furthermore, they may not bear liability if the defect was the direct result of an “Act of God,” which refers to an event outside human control, such as a natural disaster. The city can be held liable for accidents related to damaged sidewalks under its domain if the city failed to repair the sidewalk within 15 days of receiving notice of the damage.

Contact a New York Sidewalk Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has suffered broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, or any other form of harm due to a sidewalk defect in NYC, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.

The skilled lawyers at The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., understand the intricacies of NYC sidewalk defect laws and are ready to fight for your rights. We can identify the parties responsible for your losses and pursue the total compensation you deserve.

Do not let an injury caused by a sidewalk defect disrupt your life. Contact us today for a free case review to learn more about how we can help you.


For over 40 years, David H. Perecman has distinguished himself as one of the leading personal injury lawyers in New York City, championing all types of personal injury cases including construction accidents, premises accidents, automobile accidents, and medical malpractice, along with employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights cases.