Settlement for Fall at Rockefeller Center

July 18, 2012

We obtained a $90,000 settlement for a client who fell at Rockefeller Center.

The client slipped on steps at the skating rink.  She sustained a fractured ankle. 

It had just rained, and the granite steps were unduly slippery due to the combination of rain and the treads’ wear over the years.  Our expert opined that this combination made the steps unreasonably slippery as evidenced by his slip resistance meter.

We were able to settle the case despite the fact that the client did not hold onto an available handrail.  Also, she was wearing flip-flops.  Furthermore, Rockefeller Center’s expert opined that the steps were safe.  The stairs met the building code when built in the 1930’s, and that the steps were not unduly slippery based on his own slip resistance readings.

We have had a number of cases at Rockefeller Center including falls in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (behind the statue in the skating rink), a restaurant in the basement, and service driveways.

If you have been injured in an accident at Rockefeller Center, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to



Getting a Recovery for Your Attorney’s Fee in Accident Cases and Insurance Lawsuits

April 19, 2012

Clients ask  whether they can separately recover their legal fees on top of the recovery for their injury or damage?  Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”

This question makes sense in that if the defendant did not injure the client, the client would not be put to the expense of hiring an attorney to get a recovery.  After all, the client is not profiting from the lawsuit.  He is merely being made “whole” after a loss.   

Under the so-called “American rule”, which is recognized in New York, each party of the lawsuit is responsible for his own legal costs.  In comparison, under the “English rule”, the winner can recover his legal costs against the losing side.

A disadvantage of the American rule is that the injured party is not made “whole”.  He must pay a portion of his recovery for his legal fees.  On the other hand, an advantage is that a losing plaintiff will not burdened with defendant’s legal costs if defendant wins.

 An exception to the rule is where either statute or a contract provides for the award of legal fees.  But, as a general rule legal fees cannot be recovered in personal injury, property damage, and breach of insurance cases.

Mark E. Seitelman, 4/19/12,

Getting a Recovery for Bicycle Injuries; Get a Police Report

April 6, 2012

The New York Police Department has started to track and report bicycle accidents in the same manner that it writes-up motor vehicle accidents.

This is good news for injured clients.

First, the NYPD and the Department of Traffic can study bicycle accident patterns regarding present and future bike lanes.  It will also allow study of the interaction of cyclists with pedestrians.  This will help traffic planning.

Second, this is good news in that injured bicyclists and pedestrians will have their accidents recorded in a detailed manner.  As we discussed many times before regarding motor vehicle accidents (see our prior post), the police report will prove the happening of the accident as well as identifying defendant.  

Therefore, if you have been injured in a bicycle-bicycle or bicycle-pedestrian accident, be sure to call the police to the scene so that a full accident report can be taken.

If you have injured in a bicycle accident, please feel free to call me at 800-581-1434 or write to

Mark E. Seitelman, 4/6/12,

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

November 16, 2011

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,

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

June 28, 2011

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,

Getting a Recovery for Injuries from Ice Falling from a Building

February 3, 2011

Yesterday I was interviewed by The New York Times regarding injuries from falling ice from buildings.  

         We have handled cases where pedestrians have been injured by falling ice from tall buildings.  For example, in one case a police officer sustained a fractured orbit (the bone holding the eye) when he was struck by falling ice from the Grace Building on West 42nd Street.  We settled for $100,000. 

In falling ice cases the following rules apply:

  • The building owner must take corrective action only after the storm ends.  The owner has no responsibility to remove snow and ice during the storm.
  • Once the storm ends, the building owner must remove snow and ice that pose a danger to pedestrians.  If there is snow and overhanging ice which can be removed, then the owner should remove them.  If necessary, danger signs should be posted on the sidewalk.  It may be necessary to close the sidewalk while building personnel push snow and ice to the street below.
  • In the event that a pedestrian is injured from falling ice, the injured party must show that the building owner had notice of the falling ice condition and failed to take corrective action.  Such notice could be either actual notice (i.e., there was a prior report of falling ice) or constructive notice (i.e., the landlord failed to make reasonable inspections and take any preventative measures).  In either case, the mere fact of showing the accident is not enough. 

If you have been injured by falling ice, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to

Mark E. Seitelman, 2/3/11,

Snow and Ice Accidents; Holding the City Liable

January 18, 2011

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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