Between 1997 and 2006, New York City paid approximately $600 million to plaintiffs in sidewalk injury cases alone; this figure is separate from the hundreds of claims arising out of defects on city streets, such as potholes or cracks.
In 1979, the New York City Council passed a law aimed at limiting public liability for street and sidewalk injuries caused by dangerous conditions that officials were not actually aware of, or had not had the opportunity to correct. Now, a new NYC blog that details potholes and other street hazards could have implications for the city notice requirement and those individuals injured by potholes and sinkholes.
Written Notice Required Prior To Suit Against New York City
New York City Code Section 7-201 prohibits civil lawsuits against the city for damages arising out of street or sidewalk defects unless an authorized official was given written notice of the unsafe condition at least 15 days prior to a given accident.
Since the inception of this law, "written notice" has generally been construed narrowly. For instance, an organization known as the Big Apple Pothole and Sidewalk Protection Committee started an initiative in 1982 focused on mapping each of the 700,000 hazards observed on New York sidewalks every year. But, the maps produced by the committee sometimes lacked specificity, used confusing symbols and marked minor or superfluous imperfections. The New York Court of Appeals ruled that the maps were insufficient to fulfill the 15-day notice requirement when the symbols drawn on them failed to describe in detail the actual defects causing injury.
However, a recently-launched NYC blog called The Daily Pothole could cause waves in court cases that involve roadway and sidewalk defects. Launched in February of 2011, The Daily Pothole tracks city workers' progress on fixing pockmarked roadways and allows public users to report problematic potholes. As a publication of the New York City Department of Transportation, The Daily Pothole has the potential to fulfill the 15-day written notice requirement for individuals who sue due to injuries caused by unfixed potholes.
Future Uncertain For Injured Parties
Whether information contained on The Daily Pothole will actually qualify as written notice remains an open question. But, the question may soon be tested in New York courts.
If you have been injured due to a street or sidewalk defect in New York, contact an experienced attorney today to find out how you may be able to collect compensation from the city or private property owners.