Municipal Liability

City-Owned and Maintained Buildings

The City of New York is, at times, a property owner or operator. In either case, the city has the same duties and responsibilities as a private property owner. More specifically, the city owes firefighters, and all people on the property, a non-delegable duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition.

This duty can apply in countless ways. For example, as a building owner, the city would have a responsibility to make sure the stairwells are safely constructed and properly lit. Similarly, there are occasions when the city owns a site and is constructing a building. As an owner, it has a responsibility to keep worksites and walkways free of debris. We have seen many times when firefighters respond to buildings or sites that are poorly maintained, and these conditions directly or indirectly cause a firefighter to be injured. If you are injured in these circumstances, you should immediately contact us to review your potential case.

Street and Sidewalk Defects

All too often, firefighters are injured stepping off a rig or walking to and from a job. Streets and sidewalks that have not been properly maintained present dangers to firefighters that can threaten their careers.

In sidewalk and roadway defect cases, the plaintiff often must show that the city had notice of the condition. Where the city is not the adjacent property owner, the person bringing the claim typically must demonstrate that the city had prior written notice of the defective condition. There are exceptions to this requirement — for example, in situations where the city creates the condition at issue. Also, the city may be liable on occasions when the city uses the streets or sidewalks for a “special use.”

The size of the defective condition also matters. While there are differing opinions as to what constitutes a significant, actionable defect, the Administrative Code of the City of New York identifies a significant defect as being ½-inch in size or greater.

While not every sidewalk defect is a case that involves the City of New York, the city’s potential liability must be carefully examined in each circumstance. As with other municipal liability cases, a 90-day Notice of Claim requirement means that you should act quickly if you or a loved one has been injured on a sidewalk or roadway. Contact us immediately for help protecting your rights.