How Does The New York City Sidewalk Law Affect Homeowners?

sidewalklawTo paraphrase a famous movie, “Yes, Virginia there is a sidewalk law in New York City and it is enforced!”

Property owners, lessees, tenants and occupants of New York City property are all subject to the provisions of a law passed in 2003 governing sidewalks in the City of New York. So what does the law say? Previously, the concrete located between the curb and the front of most commercial and multifamily residential buildings was considered the responsibility of the City. So, if someone fell and claimed injuries, they could make a claim against the City. This law, transfers that responsibility to you! Failure to comply with the provisions of this law can result in fines, 10 days in prison or both. Also, part of the law mandates that a property owner must keep liability insurance in force to pay for injuries due to snow covered, icy, broken or defective sidewalks. Failure to keep insurance in full force and effect might result in the City paying on your behalf, but make no mistake that they will bill you for any resulting expense as part of your taxes for the next fiscal year. However, this law governs a lot more than snow removal as is commonly thought.

Did you know that the law even includes a specific time constraint for removal of ice, snow, dirt, and debris? According to the law, you have four hours after snow stops falling, or after dirt is deposited on a sidewalk or in a gutter, for removal. The law even addresses snow and ice on a sidewalk that is so frozen that it can’t be removed without actually doing damage to the pavement. In such cases, the owner, lessee, tenant or occupant is expected to put down ashes, sand, sawdust or any other material as a temporary measure to remedy the condition until weather permits sidewalks to be thoroughly cleaned. Failure to comply with the law can result in fines of, no less than, $10 and no more than $150, imprisonment of up to ten days, or both. And, that is not all! If you chose to ignore this law, the city will step in and clean your property with the understanding that they will charge you the going rate for cleaning the city streets. The ensuing charges will be sent to the City Comptroller’s office and added to your annual taxes for the next fiscal year.

The purpose of the law is to shift the responsibility for accidents from the City to the property owner. Sidewalk defects including concrete laden with snow, ice and dirt or uneven and broken sidewalks cause countless injuries every year. While the law only applies to accidents occurring on or after September 15, 2003, to date it has been a boom for the City coffers.

Owners, who don’t maintain insurance for their premises, are in violation of the law. When there is no insurance, the City Comptroller pays the uncompensated medical expenses of an injured person and then goes after the property owner for reimbursement.

According to statistics, since the law has been in force, there has been a steady decline in the number of sidewalk related injury claims filed against the City. So it pays to know what your responsibilities are. Ignorance of your responsibilities can be very expensive. One way or another you will wind up paying should you fail to comply with this law.

- Karen Skoler, CPCU

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment

Excellence in customer service and it’s a one stop shop for all my insurance needs.
Tom Haines
Petschauer is great. I never had a problem.  They always call me back. Fabulous employees who are always willing to help.
Marty Bruno
I have been with Petschauer Insurance for a long time. My account executive Lori Halloran is like family to me: she is always there when I need her and is very knowledgeable and understanding. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for my insurance needs.
Vincent Falcone
Spence-Chapin has had the pleasure of working with the wonderful John Petschauer, Inc. for 15+ years. They have always provided excellent service to us–with great knowledge, expertise, and patience — even in the most challenging situations. There has not been one time when they have not been immediately accessible to us, even at a moment’s notice. We thank them for their work and celebrate their 60th anniversary, while looking forward to working with them for another 60 years and beyond!
Quality attentive service is hard to find, but at Petschauer Insurance that’s what you can expect from their always friendly staff . It’s what we’ve experienced for all these many years.
John from Forest Pork Store Inc.
I have worked with various individuals at Petschauer and have found each to be responsive, courteous, and thoughtful. Each year, the contact for my auto policy proactively seeks new bids and has consistently saved me money on my policy.
Ryan Huber
From the first time I spoke with Lori Halloran at Petschauer Insurance, I knew she was a special person. She is a woman that conducts herself professionally, with compassion and full knowledge of all types of insurance Petschauer has to offer. While speaking with her, as she explained and answered all of my questions, I felt like I was speaking with family…which is another way to describe this company. She has a way of making very confusing decisions so simple and easy to understand. I even added another insurance policy to my two renewal policies because of her. My last renewals could have been processed via mail but I really wanted to take the time to drive and meet this wonderful woman face to face. She greeted me with this huge beautiful smile, which matched her personality perfectly. So, I just had to go back another time just to say “Hi” and bring her flowers in appreciation for all her help and also celebrate a new friendship. The Petschauer “Family” has been there for me since my first policy when I was 19 years old, and now I’m a “senior”. I’ve been with them forever and don’t plan on going anywhere else. Thank you Lori for your dedication and to the rest of the Petschauer staff.
Jane Deitlein
I have had the pleasure of working with various members of the Petschauer Team, both personally and professionally for 20+ years. And I couldn’t have done it without them. They go above and beyond. Heidi, Narima, Sherri and LuAnn don’t just bring to us the products they offer, they help me to understand the specifics and evaluate what makes the most sense for me, my family and my employees. I always feel I have a better understanding of an industry I have no understanding of so that I can evaluate the offerings in a smart way, cost effective way. They are proactive with renewals, allowing us the time to do our due diligence, evaluate our plans to be sure we’re properly covered and are always there to listen and help with special circumstances. Their kindness, caring and willingness to lend an ear when needed, really makes them stand apart from the rest. Heidi and her family have built a beautiful culture at Petschauer and I highly recommend them to anyone I meet.
Jamie Stedman-Novo
My company has called on Petschauer Insurance for many years for its insurance needs: liability, liquor, auto, etc. Working with Erwin and his team has been a pleasure from beginning to present. They are quick to answer any question and provide sound advice. I have always felt that my and our needs are important to them, in theory and practice. They go the extra mile, and we continue to be well served.
Stephen Kennard from Canard Inc.
I have been with Petschauer Insurance for over twenty five years. The staff is knowledgeable and professional. Petschauer writes both my personal and commercial insurance and they provide excellent counseling. I truly trust the firm and their staff. Thank you.
Mike Matonti