Did you know that if there is a sidewalk related incident involving your commercial building, the responsibility would fall on the building owner? When it comes to preventing slip and fall related claims, it is key to make sure sidewalks are in tip–top shape. Although the city owns most of the sidewalks, they aren’t responsible for the maintenance.
According to Local Law 49, the legislation states “It shall be the duty of the owner of real property abutting any sidewalk…to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. The property owner shall be liable for any injury to property or personal injury, including death, proximately caused by the failure of such owner to maintain [the] sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. Failure to maintain [the] sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition shall include but not be limited to; the negligent failure to install, construct, reconstruct, repave, repair, or replace defective sidewalk flags and the negligent failure to remove snow, ice, dirt, or other material from the sidewalk.”
In a recent personal injury liability case, an individual claimed an injury after slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk in front of a Brooklyn storefront. The property owners argued they should be off the hook since the lease required the tenant to maintain the sidewalk and keep it clear of snow and ice. The case went to the New York Court of Appeals, where the court ruled that “…the owner cannot shift the duty, nor exposure and liability for injuries caused by negligent maintenance, imposed under Section 7-210.”
The courted stated that even if a building hands over the control of the property to their tenant, out-of-possession landlords can’t transfer the liability burden to the tenant for such claims.
Now is the time for building owners to be proactive in maintaining the sidewalk outside their property. Winter snow and ice often causes cracks in the pavement. Make sure all sidewalks around your building are in a reasonable and safe condition and make any repairs if necessary. Properly taking care of snow and icy sidewalks are vital to the safety of your building and occupants.
Additionally, board members and property owners should ensure their insurance liability is adequate. When an insurance company sees a slip and fall on the loss history, they want to know why it happened and what was done to prevent it from happening again. If you provide what measures were done to prevent future occurrences, the insurance company may be more inclined to provide a quote.