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Sidewalk collapse drops man into rat's nest

Not only do New York City pedestrians need to worry about being hit by cars, trucks and bicycles, they can also be seriously injured by something quite unexpected.

An October 2020 story made national headlines because it was a complete nightmare scenario. According to news reports, a 33-year-old man was waiting for a bus in the Bronx when the sidewalk underneath him collapsed into a sinkhole. He dropped more than 12 feet into a pit that was full of rats "the size of puppies."

Too scared of the rats to scream, he also suffered traumatic injuries, according to news sources. The man fell feet first and suffered a spinal fracture. He lost feeling in his legs, arms and hands, and only started to regain sensation about a month after the accident. Some of his injuries may be permanent.

How did it happen and who can he blame?

Construction and disrepair can make walking in New York hazardous. With all of these hazards, it should come as no surprise that countless pedestrians are injured each year on New York City Streets. And, on any given block, it is not always clear which parts of the sidewalk are maintained by the city and which are the responsibility of property owners. This can lead to even greater maintenance and upkeep problems.

The man who fell through the sidewalk is suing both the landlord of the building where the accident occurred and the city of New York. It will take a more thorough investigation to fully determine fault and liability, but it seems clear that negligence and property neglect were factors in the incident.

Some accidents are so outrageous as to defy belief, but they are very real. Some incidents are captured on video, either someone's cellphone or by surveillance cameras as in the case of this victim.

How can a lawsuit help protect other people?

When a New Yorker is seriously injured on dangerous or defective property, filing a lawsuit is appropriate because the victim needs to recover compensation for medical bills, time away from work and other losses. But there is also another benefit to litigation: it helps solve the problem and prevents others from getting hurt. Sadly, many property owners would not address the hazards on their property without court intervention. This man's lawsuit might prevent others from suffering the same fate.

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