In New York City streets and sidewalks are filled with manhole covers, grates, metal cellar doors, posts from street signs, gas caps, and all sorts of embedded objects. Pedestrians are often caused to trip and fall over street and sidewalk hardware which is defective or raised above the walking surface. Who is responsible for each of these manhole covers, grates and objects in the street and sidewalk? Section 2-07 of the Rules & Regulations of the City of New York sets forth the standards for "Utility Hole Covers, Transformer Vault Covers and Gratings". The rule states in part that:
(b) Maintenance requirements. (1) The owners of covers or gratings on a street are responsible for monitoring the condition of the covers and gratings and the area extending twelve inches outward from the perimeter of the hardware. (2) The owners of covers or gratings shall replace or repair any cover or grating found to be defective and shall repair any defective street condition found within an area extending twelve inches outward from the perimeter of the cover or grating. (3) Street hardware shall be flush with the surrounding street surface. Street hardware which is greater than 1/2 inch above or below the street surface as measured by a six foot straight edge centered over the hardware shall be replaced or adjusted at the owner's expense. (4) Covers shall be clearly identified with markings that are registered with the Department [of Transportation]. The owners of covers which are in good condition but lack identifying markings shall place the assigned color code or tag next to the cover or grating in lieu of replacement.Thus the owner of any street or sidewalk hardware which is not in good condition and or is 1/2 inch above or below the surrounding surface, will be liable for any injuries caused by a person tripping or falling due to the condition. Some hardware is installed in the sidewalk for the benefit of an adjoining landowner. Examples may include a gas cap in the sidewalk to allow for fuel delivery, cellar doors for access to basements, or metal platforms covering basement vaults. In each case, the beneficiary of this hardware may be responsible for its defective condition, even if not the owner. This is because they make a "Special Use" of the hardware for their benefit. Thus, a person who trips and falls due to raised, defective or dangerous hardware in the road or sidewalk in the City of New York has recourse against the owner of the hardware and sometimes against those who make special use of the hardware. If you have been injured in an accident where you tripped and fell over defective hardware such as manhole covers, gratings, or cellar vault doors you should contact a personal injury attorney who has experience handling such cases. Zalman Schnurman & Miner is a New York City Law Firm that handles trip and fall cases due to defective manhole covers, gratings, cellar vault doors, and other street and sidewalk defects. All cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, so there is no fee unless there is a recovery. For a free consultation contact the law firm of Zalman Schnurman & Miner at 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463) .