NEW YORK (WABC) -- As we prepare to get our shovels and salt out, you should know in New York City and many towns, it's the home or business owners' responsibility to make sure the sidewalk in front of their property is safe and maintained. If someone slips, trips, and falls you could be on the hook for a lawsuit.
That is, unless you can show you sounded the alarm, were informed it's not your problem, and fought for a fix anyway but still got ignored.
That's what's happening to an East Village homeowner, who's very worried about the condition in front of his brownstone.
7 On Your Side got the call last fall from this concerned homeowner who's worried about someone who could frankly get killed falling over a sidewalk slate sticking up half a foot from a city's tree root.
7 On Your Side warned the Parks Department before Thanksgiving, sharing pictures of this problem they've known about for almost a decade, but nothing was done. Then on Wednesday, sure enough, a dad walking with his daughter tripped and had to be carried away in an ambulance.
"A man was on the ground right here, and he was writhing in pain," said Dan Levy, the homeowner. "His head was there and his leg was there. This has been going on almost nine years."
The jutting sidewalk splayed yet another victim this week on East 10th Street in Manhattan.
"When that man fell I was concerned and angry, but also I was resigned and disgusted," Levy said.
That's because despite numerous injuries and several lawsuits about the city's tree treacherously uprooting the slate in front of Levy's home, dozens of complaints from him and other residents and victims have been ignored.
"I think it's preposterous we are in New York City in a densely populated area and people are being hurt. They need to do something about it," said Susana Sedgwick, an East Village resident.
Homeowners in New York City are held liable for injury or even death caused by the failure to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition.
"When I first alerted the city it was barely elevated," Levy said.
That first alert was in May of 2015.
The next year, the Parks Department rated the sidewalk a high priority for construction between 2016 and 2017.
In 2018, the city issued a work order for work to commence within days, but it didn't.
The next year, a woman tripped fell, and got hurt, suing the homeowners.
The city was found liable when that woman fell in 2020 and had to pay her medical expenses.
Fast forward to 2024, and now there's another victim.
Levy had enough. His block president gave him some advice.
"Why don't you reach out to 7 on your side? And here you are on my side," Levy said.
7 On Your Side asked NYC Parks for a fix pronto, but was informed the city can't do it because it has no contractors and won't confirm a new one until Spring.
We met with the Parks Commissioner he said they still don't have a contractor and can't fix it.
"It's not possible. How can they not have a contractor?" Levy said.
The Parks Department said, "Residents can hire their own contractor...then file a claim."
"I also don't trust the city to reimburse me and they chop down trees, and they can remove trees and sidewalks, and they can do it all the time, yet within the last nine years and they haven't done it," Levy said. "This is the city's problem and the city should fix it!"
7 On Your Side asked the acting commissioner for an interview and was denied.
The Big Takeaway:
- Document Everything
- Keep evidence
- Ask for explanations in writing
This will ensure you're not liable for someone else's neglect.