As in all personal injury cases, two things must be proved: 1) liability and 2) damages.
Damages are the injuries suffered by the person suing, known as the plaintiff. No matter how clearly liable may be the party at fault, known as the defendant, the plaintiff is entitled to compensation for only the damages suffered. These can consist of either pain and suffering or economic loss. Economic loss can be made up of past, present, and future expenses and expenses for such items as medical care and for loss of income.
Under law, “liability” translates roughly into fault. To establish liability against a private defendant, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant created the dangerous condition or knew about the dangerous condition on his or her property and failed to exercise reasonable care either to remove it or to warn of its existence.
For example, if the defective condition is liquid on or a crack in the floor that caused the plaintiff to fall, the plaintiff would have to prove that the defendant either caused the condition or had actual notice of the condition and time enough to remove or cover it. A defendant may, for example, have spilled water on the floor, or had a leaking fuel tank, or over-waxed a floor, or done construction work that damaged the floor.
Actual notice can be established if the defendant actually caused the condition, personally observed it, or was notified about it, either directly or through an agent, servant or employee.
In some circumstances, the law imposes what is called constructive notice upon a defendant. For example, if the condition existed for so long that the defendant should have known about it, the law will impose notice upon him. A defendant cannot ignore problems around him and then contend that he did not have actual notice if a reasonable person could be expected to have been aware of the problem.
An additional burden is imposed upon the plaintiff when the defendant is a municipality, such as New York City, and the condition is a defective sidewalk or roadway. In that circumstance, New York City must have written notice of the defective condition at least 15 days before the accident occurs. A company travels around the city and maps defects in sidewalks and crosswalks. These maps are submitted to the city on a regular basis and satisfy the requirement for the 15 day written notice.
If you visit our office with an injury caused by a defective sidewalk or roadway, we will perform a search to determine whether that defect was mapped. If so, we will prepare a proper claim against the city, which must be done within 90 days after the accident occurs, and represent you aggressively in all aspects of your claim.
As in all personal injury matters, we do not charge a legal fee unless we are successful in obtaining money for your injury. We will even advance the expenses related to your legal action. The expenses are paid from any recovery obtained. You may call us at (718) 625-0800 to schedule a free consultation.