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Are New York City’s Sidewalks & Curbs Unsafe For The Disabled?

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An August 2017 federal court-ordered report has shed light on what many disabled New Yorkers have been fighting against for two decades – the city’s sidewalks and curbs fall woefully short of the federal requirements of the American Disabilities Act. The report also revealed that the city lacks a survey on their sidewalk corners or a plan of action for addressing these hazards. This is just the latest development in a legal battle that began in 1994, which resulted in a 2002 settlement and a 2016 agreement to address curb safety. In spite of these previous developments, the city has still failed to adequately address this widespread safety issue.

Why Are NYC Sidewalk Corners Dangerous For The Disabled?

New York City has 162,000 sidewalk corners, which have been the subject of litigation for over two decades. Many of these corners have curb ramps which are broken or missing altogether, which makes them impossible to safely roll over for people in wheelchairs. An article by the New York Times likened the experience of navigating the city’s sidewalks as a disabled person to navigating an obstacle course.

The city has a legal obligation to keep all aspects of property under their control free of hazards which could lead to a serious injury – a concept known as premises liability. With a legal battle running since the 1990s, government officials are well aware of the serious and widespread nature of these sidewalk defects. Yet they’ve still failed to take any significant action to remedy the problem, which means thousands of disabled New Yorkers regularly risk injury every time they leave the house. This can lead to social isolation and problems finding work, getting an education, and participating as members of their communities.

Report Outlines A Plan For Fixing Dangerous Curbs

The report made several recommendations for ways the city can fix this safety problem:

  • Complete a comprehensive survey of sidewalk corners within 90 days.
  • Develop a detailed plan for installing curb ramps which meet federal guidelines at all corners lacking ramps within 5 years.
  • Upgrade existing curb ramps within 8 years.
  • Appoint a monitor to oversee the project.

This lawsuit found that about 75% of 1,000 curbs surveyed in Lower Manhattan contained dangers for disabled people and that 25% lacked any type of disabled ramps whatsoever.

Separate Lawsuit Filed By Disability Rights Advocates

A national organization called Disability Rights Advocated has filed a separate lawsuit against the city regarding dangerous curbs. This lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the Center for Independence of the Disabled New York, which is a nonprofit advocacy group that has made frequent complaints against the city for a lack of safe curb ramps and other markers for the visually impaired. This lawsuit is awaiting a court decision based on the federal report.

Can I Sue The City For My Accident?

If you’ve been injured in an accident on an unsafe curb or sidewalk in New York City, it’s important to be aware of your legal rights. Our NYC personal injury lawyers can help you pursue legal action against the city, which can provide financial compensation for damages related to your injury and place added pressure on the city to do more about this serious safety issue. To find out more about how you can protect your rights, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

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