Asked in Personal Injury for New York

Q: Can we sue the state for a drain cover that's slightly protruded from the ground?

My mother in law tripped over it and fell on her face, she got pretty bruised up. She said she almost tripped on it on a separate occasion as well. She ended up in the hospital with major bruising on her face. Is there anything she could do about it?

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4 Lawyer Answers
Michael H. Joseph
Michael H. Joseph
PREMIUM
Answered
  • White Plains, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: If the drain is not flush with the surrounding sidewalk, and it is a trip hazard, you can probably sue. I would take pictures right away and measure the height differential. Also, the State of NY, may not be the proper party, many utility companies have manholes and the City of NY has alot also. So the first step would be to idenitfy whose manhole it is. If it is a City of NY manhole, your mother in law has to file a notice of claim within 90 days of the accident.l

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

Michael Bersani
Michael Bersani
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Auburn, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Yes, can sue for it, but you will not find a lawyer to take this for “bruises” . The costs of bringing the case would be too high and the likely compensation too low.

Jonathan R. Ratchik and Tim Akpinar agree with this answer

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
Answered
  • Little Neck, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: I'm sorry for your mother's accident. I hope she is okay. Unfortunately, from a legal standpoint, these tend to be difficult cases. When injuries are catastrophic in cases like this that involve defects in sidewalks, manholes, curb cuts, etc., plaintiff's counsel often bring in civil engineers, architects, or other professionals to offer expert testimony in establishing a case for negligence. If the injuries are of a more transient nature, the level of potential damages might not be able to absorb such costs. And these cases often become contentious. Reach out to law firms and get their assessments - the more information you have in terms of x-rays, MRIs (or other diagnostic imaging), and medical narratives, the better a law firm could evaluate the case. I hope your mother enjoys a healthy recovery from her injuries. Good luck

Tim Akpinar

Jonathan R. Ratchik agrees with this answer

Jonathan R. Ratchik
Jonathan R. Ratchik
PREMIUM
Answered
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: So sorry to hear what happened to your mother. Although you could certainly bring a lawsuit against the party which is responsible for the drain in question, as my colleagues have correctly pointed out, unless your mother's injuries are severe, the time and expense of a lawsuit may not be justified. If this is a matter you still wish to pursue, take photographs of the drain cover and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. You can find one using the Find a Lawyer tab on the Justia homepage. Keep in mind that if the drain is owned or controlled by either the City of New York or State of New York, you'll need to file a Notice of Claim within ninety (90) days of the incident. Good luck!

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

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