Snow and Ice Accidents; Holding the City Liable

When is the City of New York liable for a fall due to snow and ice on a sidewalk?

        First, we must establish that the City is responsible for clearing the sidewalk.  

The following rules apply:

  1. The City is liable if the adjoining property is an one-, two-, or three-family home.  The building must be solely residential and occupied by the owner.  If there is any commercial use, such as a store or doctor’s office, then the City is not liable, and the property owner would be liable.
  2. If the adjoining property does not fit the above description, then the adjoining property owner will be liable for negligent removal of snow and ice.

Therefore, consider the following examples:

  • Two-family home which is strictly residential.  Also, the owner occupies one of the units.  The City would be liable.
  • 1 Centre Street, the Municipal Building.  The building is not residential and is owned by the City.  New York  City would be liable.
  • 111 Broadway, an office building.  The building owner would be liable.
  • An empty lot on East 183rd Street in Bronx, New York.  This would not be deemed a residence but a commercial property (undeveloped land).  The owner would be responsible.
  • A brownstone which has a certificate of occupancy for three units but actually has four units.  The owner lives in one unit.  In this case, the owner would liable.
  • 295 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, an apartment house of 50 units.  The owner would be liable.
  • The U.S. Courthouse at Foley Square.  The property is not residential.  The owner is the U.S.A., and it would be liable.

Therefore, a key consideration is who owns the adjoining property and whether it falls within the residential exception.

If you have been injured due to a fall from snow and ice, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to

Mark E. Seitelman, 1/18/11,


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