Potholes in the roads and sidewalks of New York City are nothing new, but the pothole problems the city is experiencing are starting to add up. As the winters get more brutal in the New York City area, the number of potholes continues to grow. While the city is doing its best at fixing potholes, there are still hundreds of millions of dollars in pothole claims and a perpetual stream of accidents due to potholes that have become more than just a nuisance to the city.
Tackling Sidewalk Potholes In New York City
There are approximately 6,000 miles of sidewalks in New York City, and every mile is subject the same conditions that create potholes in the streets. Prior to 2003, the law in New York City said that the only way a resident who was injured in a sidewalk pothole could make a claim against the city, was if the city had been notified about the pothole prior to the injury.
In 2003, ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg changed that law to make property owners responsible for injuries sustained on New York City sidewalks. That meant that the retail business or residential rental property that was located on the property that led up to the sidewalk was responsible for reporting the sidewalk damage. If someone was hurt and the sidewalk damage had not been reported, then the victim could sue the property owner.
The only two cases where the city may still be responsible for your injuries is if the city owns the property near the sidewalk, or if the property is a residential property where the property owner lives. Otherwise, property owners in New York City could be liable for pothole injuries that occur on the sidewalks in front of their properties.
Addressing Pothole Issues
According to Metro Magazine, New York City had repaired an estimated 113,100 potholes by the middle of February 2014. This number was up from the same time in 2013 and 2012 and was an indication of how bad the problem was getting.
At that time, Mayor de Blasio added $7.3 million to the city’s Department of Transportation budget to do weekly pothole hunts to repair the largest potholes in the city. The new budget increase also included funding for ways to improve the quality of the asphalt being used on city streets and in the patches being used for the potholes, and to find ways to make the roads last longer. But as 2015 started to get underway, it was obvious that the city still had a lot of work to do.
An Increase In Lawsuits Ensues
The New York Daily News indicates that the city of New York has paid out approximately $138 million in pothole claims from 2009 to 2015. The bad weather and poor road conditions during those years led to around 4,000 lawsuits that the city could not win. In 2015, the city announced it was going to be more strategic in the potholes it fills, and it was going to repave 2,500 miles of city streets by 2017. All of this effort is being done to hopefully make 80 percent of all city streets pothole-free.
While the plans seem to be in place to fix the pothole problems, the city’s backup plan does not give observers a whole lot of confidence in the results. It is estimated that New York City budgets around $732 million dollars every year just to settle pothole lawsuits. While everyone agrees that the money could be better spent, no one has really come up with a permanent solution to the pothole problem.
Every major American city that gets snow during the winter experiences its share of pothole problems that create accidents and unfortunate injuries. As the weather gets more intense during the winters, New York City seems to be fighting a losing battle when it comes to getting its pothole problems under control. The city is allocating more funds to settle pothole lawsuits than it is to fix pothole problems, and that is never a good sign.