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Lawsuits & Litigation

Can You Sue the City of New York if You Were Injured on City Property?

— September 8, 2021

Many people feel intimidated or afraid to bring a claim or lawsuit against any governmental body.

When you suffer an injury on someone else’s property – let’s say a slip & fall injury – you can claim compensation from that entity in New York City or otherwise. But what happens if you fall on the sidewalk on public property in New York? And how do you approach things in case you suffer injuries in one of New York’s many public agencies? For example, can you sue the city if you fall on the stairs at City Hall?

The first thing you should know about suing New York – as the Morelli law firm in New York sharply points out – is that bringing a claim against the city is different from bringing an injury claim against a person or a private entity. So the rules are a bit different. Moreover, the New York law department is of massive size, with hundreds of employed attorneys and thousands of ongoing and pending lawsuits every year. In other words, if you feel the city has failed you and want to sue, the first thing to do is hire a New York lawyer to handle your personal injury lawsuit.

Yes, you can sue New York city for injuries suffered on city property – to answer the question. But you have to know what to do and how the current law can help you. And this is why we are here today!

What Types of Claims and Suits Can You Bring against the City of New York?

You should know that the New York Court of Claims Act, Article II, Section 8 allows individuals to file injury claims. It also consents that the city can be sued in court for negligence and personal injuries, for instance, under the same rules and guidelines followed by private citizens when they sue each other or a private entity. In addition, waiving the old “sovereign immunity,” Section 8 allows you to sue the city if you suffered a personal injury on its property.

But we talk about more than just premises liability claims. Here are the most common reasons you can sue New York for if you suffered an injury:

  • Slips, trips, and fall accidents on the city’s property or in a city-owned building;
  • A car accident involving a city vehicle (police car, garbage truck, fire truck, etc.)
  • Defects and hazards in public buildings – if the state employees did not fix broken floors or burned-out lightbulbs or did not properly warn the public of the present defective or dangerous property conditions, you can sue the city and seek compensation for your injuries;
  • Medical negligence – if a state-run facility injures you while offering medical treatment, you can seek compensation for medical negligence;
  • Premises liability cases – according to statistics provided by the CDC and the New York State Department of Health, most injuries are caused by slips, trips, and falls, being struck against or by an object, or being cut or pierced by sharp objects, among others.

    Yellow "Caution Wet Floor" sign; image by adpeople0, via
    Yellow “Caution Wet Floor” sign; image by adpeople0, via

According to the New York City Administrative Code, all public property owners must maintain their premises and warn the public of that property’s dangerous conditions when they appear. Therefore, if you suffered injuries on New York City streets, bridges, and walkways, you can sue the city, as it is liable if it did not fix the potentially dangerous issues or did not properly warn the public against them. Likewise, if the New York City Housing Authority neglected to maintain their rental properties and you can prove they are responsible for your injuries, you can sue them as well.

How to Protect Your Right for a Claim against New York City

If you suffered an injury on public property and you want to hold the city responsible, here is what expert injury law attorneys recommend you do:

  • Notify a police officer or a building’s security guard. The earliest official reports of your injury will constitute important evidence that might support a future claim.
  • Note the exact location and time of your accident. Even if these details show up in the official report, it is still wise to have your data set for later comparisons. In addition, your attorney might want to check your notes against the official report to spot any inaccuracies.
  • If you notice any witnesses to your accident, get their details (names and contact information). Your attorneys will want to talk to them to corroborate your evidence.
  • Get immediate medical attention for your injuries. If you intend to file a claim in the New York Court of Claims, you need to do it within a 90-days’ time limit; otherwise, they will not hear your case. To comply with the time limit, you must provide all the documents sustaining your claim, and medical records (plus bills) are mandatory.

Bottom Line

Many people feel intimidated or afraid to bring a claim or lawsuit against any governmental body. However, while New York City is a tough cookie from all points of view, you can build a solid case and win with the right legal representation. For example, if you trip and fall because of a broken street sign protruding from the sidewalk or you slipped on ice because of a broken water pipe, you are in your right to sue the city. Your top concerns are getting immediate, thorough medical attention and a New York personal injury lawyer to fight for you.

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