Whose Responsibility Is That Broken Sidewalk on Long Island? Think You Know? Think Again!
If you trip and fall on a sidewalk, you need to know who is responsible for that sidewalk--and the answer to that question varies across Long Island by town.
Whose Responsibility Is That Broken Sidewalk in Your Town?
HEMPSTEAD: Property owner pays for sidewalk repair. Nearly all residential areas have sidewalks.
NORTH HEMPSTEAD: Town pays for repairs out of a separate sidewalk repair district. About 80 percent of homes have sidewalks.
OYSTER BAY: Property owners are responsible for sidewalk repair. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of homes have sidewalks.
BABYLON: Property owners must pay for sidewalk repair. About 20 percent of homes have sidewalks.
BROOKHAVEN: Town pays for sidewalk repair. About 25 percent of homes have sidewalks.
EAST HAMPTON: Town pays for sidewalk repair.
HUNTINGTON: Since 2006, property owners have been responsible for maintaining sidewalks.
ISLIP: Property owners are responsible for repair.
RIVERHEAD: The town maintains sidewalks. Only 10 percent of residential homes have sidewalks. The state maintains the sidewalks along Route 25.
SHELTER ISLAND: Does not have any residential areas with sidewalks.
SMITHTOWN: Town is responsible for sidewalks. About 40 percent of homes have sidewalks.
SOUTHOLD: Town maintains sidewalks. About 25 percent of homes have sidewalks.
SOUTHAMPTON: Town repairs sidewalks.
What Do I Need to Do?
Of Long Island's 13 towns, seven take on the responsibility of making repairs to residential sidewalks in their jurisdiction: North Hempstead, Riverhead, Brookhaven, Smithtown, East Hampton, South Hampton, and Southold. They make all repairs to sidewalks and are responsible for any injuries or accidents caused by a broken sidewalk. If you have an accident in one of these towns as result of a damaged sidewalk, it is important to be aware that suing a town for damages has extra challenges and that the settlements are often lower. You must, for example, file a notice that you are making the claim within 90 days of the lawsuit. In addition the statute of limitation is shorter when suing a municipality versus an individual.
In contrast, Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Babylon, Huntington, and Islip put the responsibility of sidewalk repairs on homeowners. This means residents need to be extra cautious about maintaining safe walkways around their homes. The remaining town, Shelter Island, does not have any sidewalks in residential areas.
In recent years, with towns suffering huge budget deficits and needing to cut spending across the board, some towns that pay for repairs, such as Smithtown, are looking to shift the responsibility to homeowners. Huntington changed its town code in 2006, shifting responsibility from the town to residents and, in the process, saving its taxpayers more than $1.6 million each year. This trend puts more burden on homeowners to care for their sidewalks, and makes it easier for those that are injured as a result of sidewalk negligence to seek and receive compensation for their damages.