What You Need to Know About New York Sinkhole and Sidewalk Accidents
While they are not all that common, these accidents are almost always significant and can impact someone’s life for many years. Sinkhole accidents are very serious and can result in physical injuries as well as property damage and lasting mental health problems.
Sinkhole accident lawyers know that there are almost always warning signs for these problems, and sadly, those warning signs are often ignored. Warning signs are frequently missed or ignored by local or state government inspectors, and by the building owners, managers and contractors.
If you have been involved in a sinkhole accident and need legal representation, contact our New York lawyers as soon as possible.
What Is A Sinkhole?
A sinkhole, as the name implies, is a depression or hole in the ground with no natural drainage. Because of this, when it rains, the water collects inside the sinkhole and drains into the subsurface. Eventually, this will give way and the ground will dip and form a large opening. The opening forms quickly and can be quite dangerous.
Who is Responsible for a Sinkhole Accident?
The business owner, a construction company, or another corporation could all be held liable for a sinkhole accident. Carelessness, neglect, and a general disregard for safety can lead to the creation of a sinkhole, and there is almost always someone who knows about the danger of a sinkhole.
It is important for a sinkhole accident lawyer to get all the facts about the case and go after who is responsible. This means investigating the construction site, maintenance, and any warnings that may have been present but ignored.
NYC Sidewalk Accidents Caused by Sinkhole
So many people think that sinkhole accidents only impact cars and drivers, but people walking down the street also have to worry about sinkholes, including people in New York City. In October 2020, a man walking in the Bronx fell 15 feet below the ground when the sidewalk under his feet gave way. FDNY rushed to the scene and they were able to save him, though he did sustain several injuries that required medical attention.
When the Department of Buildings investigated the site, they found that the sidewalk vault was neglected and needed maintenance. They issued a full vacancy order for multiple buildings on the block. The building itself was later sold.
Recently, there was an accident in July 2021 on the Upper East Side (89th Street) where the road caved in. Thankfully in this case, the street was a quiet one, and there was no one around when the sinkhole gave way – no cars were damaged either. However, a sinkhole opened up just days before on Riverside Drive and West 97th Street, where two cars were partially swallowed into the sinkhole.
Over the years, we have handled a wide variety of cases, including personal injury cases, bicycle accidents, and cases involving bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists who have been injured as a result of roadway defects and neglectful maintenance and repairs. Do not allow insurance companies to settle with you before you speak with a lawyer – you need an experienced lawyer on your side to help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.
What Responsibility Do Property Owners Have?
When someone owns a property, particularly in a place like NYC where people will be walking in front of that business regularly, property owners are responsible for maintaining those sidewalks and keeping the public safe. This includes all sidewalks adjacent to their buildings. This may not be the responsibility of people who rent the building, but instead the owners, many of whom do not physically see the location on a daily basis. Even so, property owners are responsible for:
- Installing sidewalks around new construction
- Constructing the sidewalks to all best practices
- Reconstructing sidewalks that have been destroyed or damaged
- Repairing sidewalks that are in less than good condition
- Repaving sidewalks that have been damaged
- Denoting any sidewalks that are not safe to walk on while waiting for fixes
If building owners are aware that there is an issue, they are likely to have at least a share of the liability for the accident in question. The city itself is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure that supports the sidewalk systems, so it is likely that in many instances, they will share some of the liability for the accident and resulting injuries as well.
In the case of the accident in the Bronx, it is likely that both the city and the property owners failed to live up to their responsibilities. There are other accidents and injuries that can result from sidewalks that are not taken care of properly, including slip and fall accidents caused by uneven, broken, sloping, cracked, icy, and loose sidewalks. New York sinkhole or pothole accidents are not a new phenomenon, and while most people have learned to pay attention to their surroundings, sometimes dangerous situations are not always visible.
Were You Injured in A Sinkhole or Sidewalk Defect Accident?
If you were injured in a sinkhole or sidewalk defect accident and need legal representation, contact Goidel and Siegel, New York sinkhole and sidewalk defect accident lawyers. With over 30 years of experience as trial lawyers and a multilingual staff with Zoom meeting capabilities, we will meet you wherever you are and however you are comfortable.
You need the best legal representation possible. We will work with you to determine the best course of action for you and your loved one. Call us today at (212) 840-3737 to schedule a free consultation!