Recovering for New York Sidewalk Accidents; Getting to the “Root of the Problem”–Tree Roots and Sidewalks

New York City’s laws can be a minefield regarding sidewalk falls.

We recently had a case illustrating this point.

Our client tripped on a raised flagstone in front of The New School, a private college.   It appears that the cement was raised due to a tree root that had pushed-up the cement block.

    An example of a sidewalk damaged by tree roots.

Under the recently enacted Administrative Code sec. 7-210, the adjoining premises owner would be liable for the condition of the sidewalk.  However, the City is responsible for the tree well and the tree. 

We filed suit against the New School.  In turn, the college filed a third-party action against the City claiming that the City’s tree uprooted the sidewalk, and the City’s tree roots caused or contributed to the broken sidewalk.

The City moved to dismiss stating that it had no liability for the sidewalk and that responsibility falls on the adjoining property owner.   The college claimed that the defect was caused by the City’s tree.

The Court ruled that responsibility resides with the private property owner.  The City is out of the case.  See the decision here.

We have written extensively about sidewalk accidents in prior posts.  If you have been injured due to a broken sidewalk, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or

Mark E. Seitelman, 6/28/11,


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