When a pedestrian is injured due to a defect with the sidewalk, questions of liability and responsibility for sidewalk maintenance are sure to soon follow. In Westchester County, New York, there’s no exception; liability for sidewalk-related accidents is complicated and often requires an attorney’s help to navigate. If you live in Westchester County or were just visiting it and were injured by a sidewalk defect or unsafe design, there are a few things you should know about the region’s regulations and what to expect if you want to file an injury claim in pursuit of compensation.
Patchwork of Sidewalk Regulations
Westchester County’s sidewalk laws are not very uniform across its cities, towns, and villages. While some areas have well-maintained sidewalks with clear guidelines for upkeep and safety, others struggle with inconsistent regulations and infrastructure gaps that lead to sidewalk defects and dangers.
In many towns, property owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to their properties, including repairs and snow removal. However, the specifics of these obligations can differ significantly. For instance, in some municipalities, property owners must ensure that sidewalks are clear of snow and ice within a certain timeframe after a snowfall or else face fines or liability for any accidents that occur due to negligence. But in other municipalities, the obligation to clear snow might not be on the property owner at all because it is argued that pedestrians need to bear responsibility for treading carefully on snow and ice.
In other areas within Westchester County, the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance falls squarely on the local government. For these cases, municipalities are tasked with repairing and maintaining sidewalks, often funded through taxpayer dollars. However, budget constraints and competing priorities can lead to delays in repairs, leaving pedestrians vulnerable to trip hazards and other dangers.
Safety Concerns & Accidents
The inconsistencies in sidewalk regulations across Westchester County have real-world consequences for pedestrian safety. Uneven pavement, cracked sidewalks, overgrown vegetation, and inadequate lighting are just a few of the hazards that pedestrians may encounter while walking down the street or through a public parking lot.
Sidewalk accidents are not uncommon in Westchester County, with slip-and-fall injuries, trips over uneven surfaces, and collisions with obstacles posing significant risks to pedestrians. In densely populated areas like White Plains and Yonkers, where foot traffic is heavy, the potential for accidents is greater than average.
Determining Who is Responsible for a Sidewalk Accident
The lack of uniformity in sidewalk laws can complicate matters after a sidewalk accident occurs. Determining liability and seeking compensation for injuries suffered due to a poorly maintained sidewalk can be a daunting task, especially when navigating the patchwork of regulations that govern different towns and municipalities. A local sidewalk accident attorney should be consulted by anyone who wants to bring a claim for compensation for their injuries. Hiring an attorney who is familiar with the county’s rules and who can identify whether the municipality or adjacent landowner is responsible for their injuries is practically a necessity. Otherwise, complexities and gray zones in the regulations could stop an injury claim before it has a chance to develop.
Who Can Help After a Sidewalk Accident in Westchester County?
Realistically, even if legislation was quickly approved to unify Westchester County’s sidewalk rules and regulations, physical improvements to the sidewalks throughout the county won’t be completed overnight. It would likely take years to overhaul the legislation and then send out construction teams to repair and replace damaged or defective sidewalks where needed. Unfortunately, this situation means that, in the meantime, pedestrians in Westchester County could be at a higher risk of both sidewalk accidents and regulation-related frustrations after an accident happens.
At Sutton & Smyth, LLP, we are proud to fight for the rights and well-being of injured locals in Westchester County. When we hear of yet another sidewalk-related accident in our area, we always ask three things: “Why did it happen? Who is responsible for making things right? How can we help?” We are passionate about representing the wrongfully injured in injury claims that are rife with regulatory complexities, including cases that other law firms might find too complicated to successfully handle. Our Westchester County sidewalk accident lawyers are always up for a challenge, especially when we know our effort could be what brings a local friend and community member peace of mind and fair compensation.
Get more information about our law firm and your rights after a sidewalk accident in Westchester County, NY. Dial (866) 935-1862 and ask for a free initial case evaluation.