Lawyers found a way to sue

Plaintiffs attempting to sue the City of New York for a slip-and-fall accident used to have a difficult time doing so, lawyers said. Claimants now have an easier time suing commercial property owners, who since 2003 have been responsible for the sidewalks that line their property.
Under the old law, which was established in the 1970s during the Koch administration, plaintiffs needed to provide the Department of Transportation (DOT) with prior written notice about the defects in the sidewalk and prove they had not been fixed after 15 days. This proved difficult, lawyer Paul Cutrone said.
Lawyers formed the Big Apple Pothole Protective Committee, which hired a mapping company to go around the city and document defective sidewalks and potholes. They sent this map to the commissioner of the DOT, so it was heeded as prior written notice. Victims now had a case against the city.
“When you had a map, you had a very good case,” Cutrone said.
For example, on a Big Apple map dated 2001 of a few blocks of South Richmond Hill, there were many defects on 133rd Street between 109th and 111th Avenues. There are six “X” symbols on the map, which represent “broken, misaligned, or uneven curbs,” and a few symbols that represent extended sections of raised, uneven or cracked sidewalks.
DOT did not respond to requests for comment at press time.
Big Apple continued sending maps until 2003, when the new sidewalk law was passed.

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