Getting a Recovery for Sidewalk Falls; Falling on Leaves and Other Debris

In a fall on autumn leaves or other debris on the sidewalk, the adjoining premises owner or business may be liable.

The New York City Administrative Code was amended to impose liability on the adjoining property owner as follows:

  • Owners of commercial property will be liable for the condition of the sidewalk;
  • An owner of either an one-, two-, or three-family home will not be liable so long as the owner resides in one of the units, and the building is solely residential; and
  • An owner of a multiple dwelling or apartment house of four units or more will be responsible.

Prior to this change in the law the City of New York was responsible for all sidewalks, and recovery in this type of case was almost impossible.  Recovery against the private owner is more likely.

In order to prove a case against the property owner the injured party must show that the owner had notice of the fallen leaves or debris.  The mere fact of the accident is not enough.

In a case involving leaves or other debris or trash, it can be helpful to find witnesses who can state that the condition for a long period of time before the accident.

If you have been injured in a sidewalk fall, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to

Mark E. Seitelman, 11/16/11,


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