Understanding Municipal Liability Claims

A person with a disability confidently boarding a bus displaying a handicap sign, exemplifying inclusive and accessible public transportation.

While city life has its advantages, it also poses some risks and sometimes people are hurt through no fault of their own. If you get injured on a public road or while commuting on public transportation due to the city’s negligence, you can file a claim for damages against the municipal government.

When the government fails in its duty of care toward the people who live within its jurisdiction, the municipality can be held accountable for any resulting injury.

However, successfully settling or winning municipal liability lawsuits can be difficult, so it’s crucial to understand them to make sure your claim is handled appropriately. Knowing the ins and outs of New York’s municipal liability laws will give you the upper hand in court if you ever find yourself filing a claim. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about municipal liability.

What Is Municipal Liability?

Most people deal with government agencies in the course of their daily lives. These institutions are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the city’s roads, parks, and security systems, which are crucial to the well-being of families and the community as a whole. They are in charge of protecting the safety of citizens and tourists while on public property, which includes:

  • Streets
  • Highways
  • Sidewalks
  • Public transportation
  • Public parks
  • Swimming pools
  • Government buildings
  • Schools

However, when these institutions fail, the consequences can be devastating for the community.

As defined by the law, municipal liability is the duty of care owed by public entities to citizens injured on municipal property or by government employees. If a municipality breaches another person’s rights while acting in a governmental capacity as opposed to a proprietary role, the injured party may seek compensation for any ensuing damages.

If you have been injured on municipal property, seek legal assistance from The Pagan Law Firm today.

Types of Municipal and Premises Liability Cases

There are many reasons why accidents occur, and sometimes it’s no one’s fault. However, the concept of negligence is that whatever happened wouldn’t have taken place if not for one party’s carelessness or indifference.

Here are some examples of how a municipality can be negligent:

Traffic Signal Failures

The presence of traffic signs and stoplights is an integrated component of any road or highway, especially in urban areas. Many people take it for granted that traffic signals are never incorrect or never malfunction.

However, the courts have repeatedly awarded sizable settlements to victims of catastrophic car collisions and pedestrian accidents caused by traffic signal failures.

Here’s a rundown of some specific examples from past cases when traffic signals were found to be at fault:

Conflicting Signals

There are times when traffic lights conflict and both directions simultaneously flash a green light. This is extremely dangerous because both drivers will be under the false impression that they have the right of way.

Obstructed Stop Signs

There may be legal consequences for government agencies that fail to properly install stop signs or fail to clear the area of obstructions that prevent drivers from seeing the signs. When the inevitable accident occurs, the city government would probably try to blame one of the parties involved.

In most cases, however, courts have decided in favor of the motorist and rejected this reasoning. When an accident occurs because the city neglected to remove an object that made it difficult to see a traffic signal or stop sign, the municipality may be held accountable for damages.

Insufficient Walking Interval

Some traffic lights are not set up correctly, so pedestrians do not have enough time to cross the street. The distance between posts should be taken into account while determining the cross time. Unfortunately, the time allotted by crossing signals is often inadequate. As a result, anyone who sustains an injury as a direct result can file a claim against the city or municipality.

Traffic Signal Blackout

A traffic signal blackout occurs when the light is entirely off or not functioning at all. If this happens, drivers should halt at the intersection as if it were a four-way stop.

A broadside crash is imminent if any motorist fails to do so. In the event of an accident brought on by faulty traffic lights, it is human nature to place blame on the government agency in charge of maintaining them. However, proving that a public entity is accountable can be extremely challenging.

Highway Maintenance Failures

Too many car crashes can be traced back to the poor condition of the roads. Poor planning, construction, and maintenance contribute to the precarious state of highways. The following are examples of poor roadway maintenance:

  • Uneven pavement: If drivers aren’t warned about bumps in the road, they may keep going at full speed when they should slow down, posing a safety risk to themselves and others. This includes shoulder drop-offs, which happen when the road shoulder is lower than the rest of the street.
  • Potholes: Poor weather, fluctuating temperatures, and high volumes of vehicle traffic all contribute to the emergence of potholes, which then tend to continue to deteriorate until they are fixed. A pothole can make it difficult for a motorist to remain in control of their vehicle, increasing the risk of a collision with another vehicle or pedestrian.

New York City and the other municipalities are accountable for maintaining and repairing the roads and streets in their respective areas.

Faulty Roadway

City and road planners are responsible for constructing safe and reliable roads. To ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians, highways should be built with tried-and-true safety features. Major accidents can occur because of road design flaws in New York City, including faulty infrastructure, uneven shoulders, and broken traffic lights.

Successfully settling a case involving a flawed roadway design is not easy. When seeking compensation from the government, the rules, including the statute of limitations, differ from those for private premises liability lawsuits.

Snow, Ice, and Water Hazards

Too many New Yorkers suffer injuries from slips and falls on icy streets each winter. Although “accidents” do indeed happen occasionally, many of them are neither random nor unavoidable. Instead, slip-and-fall accidents might occur because the property owners and managers don’t remove snow and ice from sidewalks and driveways in a timely manner. For public sidewalks, the local government is the property owner.

Like any other property owner or agency, the municipal government is bound to keep its buildings and grounds in a reasonably safe condition. This involves making sure all potential snow and ice risks are cleared away each winter. If not, members of the public may suffer a premises liability accident and have the right to bring forth a premises liability case.

Police Misconduct

When an officer fails in their responsibility to uphold and enforce the New York laws leading to an injury, whether intentionally, negligently, or recklessly, this may be considered misconduct.

Injuries can take many forms, including, but not limited to, bodily harm, social disgrace, a decline in earning potential, a false sense of security within one’s own home, or even false confinement.

In cases of police misconduct, victims can seek fair compensation from the city or county that employed the offending officer, and in some cases, from the officer themselves. Keep in mind that the requirements for filing a premises liability lawsuit against a New York City municipality also apply to charges of police misconduct.

Several situations qualify as examples of improper police conduct, such as:

  • Reckless driving: When responding to a critical situation, police officers are allowed to break the rules of the road. However, they may not act recklessly. A victim who was injured by a police officer who drove recklessly or failed to activate the warning lights and siren may be able to seek fair compensation.
  • False arrest: Police officers can be held liable for civil rights violations when they unlawfully arrest or question someone without a reasonable basis. As a result, victims may file a claim for compensation.
  • False or excessive confinement: If a police officer detains a citizen without reasonable cause, that person has a claim for damages since the officer has infringed on their civil rights. The same holds true if a person is confined by police for too long under the specified conditions.
  • Brutality or excessive force: Officers can use reasonable force in the performance of their duty. On the other hand, they cannot use excessive force. A victim can seek compensation if the police use excessive force, such as punching or beating a person who is already cooperative or subdued. Excessive force also includes shooting an unarmed person, overusing tasers or pepper sprays, assaulting someone, and racial profiling.
  • Wrongful death while in custody: If a detainee dies while in custody because of police negligence, their family may file a wrongful death suit against the police force. There have been several cases of the police holding a diabetic person in detention without giving them insulin despite being aware of their condition. The victims eventually passed away due to insulin deficiency. In most cases, the family of the deceased received compensation for their loss.

Negligence and Malpractice at Any Municipal Hospital

The official name for New York City’s public hospital system is New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Multiple city-run hospitals in New York form this organization.

There are numerous hospitals throughout the five boroughs, including Harlem Hospital and Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, North Central Bronx Hospital and Jacoby Medical Center in the Bronx, and many more.

New York law states that all public and private hospitals must provide the same level of treatment to their patients. The hospital cannot promise a specific result for any one patient, but is obliged to provide treatment at the same level as those from other hospitals in the area.

Medical malpractice claims can be filed against the hospital and its employees if they break from the accepted standard of care and cause injury to a patient.

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation is accountable for the actions and care provided by its employees, including doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.

If a patient in New York City has reason to believe they were the victim of medical negligence by a municipal hospital, they should not hesitate to get in touch with an experienced malpractice or premises liability attorney at The Pagan Law Firm today.

Public School Accidents

New York City parents expect their children’s schools to provide a conducive and secure learning environment free from threats to the student’s well-being. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and some fail to keep school premises safe all the time. Worse yet, school administrators and employees may be negligent, putting students at risk of injuries stemming from accidents and diseases.

You have a right to know what happened if your child got hurt at school. You’ll also need financial compensation in order to provide for your child. You may have missed time at work, or your child might have needed expensive medical care, all of which could have resulted in substantial expenses.

You should seek the counsel of New York premises liability lawyers to learn more about your legal options and get advice on how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Subway, Train, and Bus Accidents

Major accidents on public transportation like buses, subways, and trains are unfortunately commonplace. These accidents can cause major devastation, not just to the victims, but to their loved ones as well. The adverse effects can be catastrophic.

Accidents involving buses, subways, and trains are common because of human error on the part of drivers, conductors, and engineers. They might be texting while driving, speeding, not paying attention, or intoxicated.

In addition, transportation vehicles are prone to breakdowns. NYC premises for public transportation, such as subway platforms and bus stops, may also be dangerous. Even minor incidents involving buses, subways, and trains can cause serious injury or death because of their massive size and speed.

When it comes to fighting off personal injury claims, transportation, municipal, and other government entities with responsibility for mass transit have plenty of resources at their disposal.

For them, protecting their bottom line is number one, so they’ll do whatever it takes to counter any suit filed against them. Since this is the case, it is crucial to hire competent NYC premises liability attorneys with the necessary expertise and skills to get things done properly.

Municipal Vehicle Accidents

Over 30,000 vehicles are part of New York City’s municipal fleet, making it the largest in the United States. Street sweepers and garbage trucks are just two examples of the city-owned vehicles that help thousands of New Yorkers every day. Unfortunately, accidents involving municipal vehicles can happen.

There are several factors that can lead to an accident involving a municipal vehicle, but most of the time, negligence is to blame. Motor vehicle accidents are often complicated by the negligence of one or more of the parties involved. The first step towards getting compensated for a crash is figuring out what caused it.

It’s possible to file a municipal liability lawsuit against the New York City government if your accident was caused by a public vehicle. This might be the case if your accident was caused by the city’s or an employee’s willful disregard for the personal injury law or a serious breach of safety protocol.

When suing the city for damages, you or your New York City premises liability attorney will need to show that the municipality owed you a legal duty of reasonable care and breached that obligation, which led to your injuries. Contact The Pagan Law Firm today to speak with a seasoned attorney who will fight to get the compensation you deserve.

What Compensation Can You Recover?

Any costs associated with a municipal accident may be covered by a successful premises liability claim. Past and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and emotional distress may all be compensated for in a fair settlement or winning case.

To win your case, you’ll need to show that the city’s actions amounted to negligent behavior. A personal injury lawyer can help you shoulder this responsibility and guide you through the intricate process of submitting a liability claim. If you want to receive maximum compensation, legal representation is highly recommended.

How Long Do You Have to File Municipality or Premises Liability Claims?

When the defendant is a New York state or local government entity, the statute of limitations for personal injuries and negligence is reduced. Within 90 days of the accident, the victim must file a notice of claim with the city, and they have one year and ninety days from the date of the accident to bring a lawsuit.

How to File a Municipality or Premises Liability Claim

You need to have incurred either monetary damages (missed income, medical costs, etc.) or non-monetary damages (pain and suffering) as a direct result of the municipality’s carelessness or malicious actions to launch a case.

If you’ve been injured, you should seek medical attention right away. You can receive a proper diagnosis of your condition and gather evidence that your injury was caused by the municipality’s negligence.

Gather medical records, police reports, witness accounts, and photographs of the scene of the accident to support your municipality or premises liability claim.

If you are suing a local government agency, you should consult a municipal liability attorney to make sure you are doing everything correctly, like submitting a Notice of Claim. Include the following in your Notice of Claim:

  • Your name and address
  • The name of your New York premises liability lawyer
  • The specifics of the incident like when and where it took place
  • A complete record of all injuries sustained as a result of the incident
  • The damages you’re hoping to recover

The deadline for verifying and filing the document is when the statute of limitations begins to run.

The Benefits of Hiring Municipality and Premises Liability Lawyers to Help With Your Case

When someone is hurt on municipal property, they have the option of suing the city for negligence.

You only have 90 days to file a notice if you were injured on New York public property, meaning it’s in your best interest to consult with municipal or premises liability lawyers. They will have experience with negligence and premises liability cases and can advise you on whether or not you have a legitimate claim.

Contact The Pagan Law Firm

We recognize that the effects of an injury caused by someone else’s negligence can be devastating. When someone gets hurt on the bus or train, in a public facility, or because of police brutality, our municipality and premises liability lawyers are here to help. As plaintiffs’ attorneys, we have a long history of winning premises liability cases against New York City and other municipalities on behalf of our injured clients.

At The Pagan Law Firm, our quick response time and willingness to help clients through the often-confusing process of municipal liability damage lawsuits sets us apart.

We are dedicated personal injury lawyers who are determined to help New Yorkers who have been injured due to the negligence of others recover the compensation they deserve.

Call us at 212-967-8202 to schedule a no-obligation, free consultation if you or your loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a municipality or other government entity. Let one of our liability attorneys hear your side of the story and offer a free case evaluation, address your concerns, explain your rights, and discuss the possible next steps to recover maximum compensation for your damages.

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