There are thousands of manholes throughout New York City. Unfortunately, when these covers are loose, displaced, or missing, serious accidents can arise, which may lead to injury or fatality. Whether you were in a vehicle or on foot when a manhole accident occurred, you may suffer from life-changing and debilitating injuries. In such cases, it’s important to hold the responsible party accountable for your injuries. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, you may be entitled to recover your economic damages as well as your pain and suffering.
Types of Manhole Accidents
Manholes are constructed to provide workers with access to utility lines, pipes, or the sewer system. They are closed with a heavyweight cover that can weigh hundreds of pounds. While the cables underground are prone to damage caused by aging and erosion, they can cause a fire if they come into contact with flammable materials. When this happens, pressure can build up within the manhole and ultimately cause the cover to explode and be hurled into the air, striking a pedestrian or vehicle.
Other common types of manhole accidents and injuries include the following:
- Trip and fall accidents — Loose or missing covers can cause trip and fall hazards to pedestrians, leading to injuries such as broken bones, nerve damage, paralysis, and brain damage.
- Car accidents — If a manhole is left open or is dislodged, a serious car accident can arise if a vehicle hits it.
- Steam and burn injuries — Hot steam can rise through the holes of the manhole cover, causing pedestrians to suffer severe burn injuries and disfigurement.
- Explosions — Heat buildup and faulty wires can cause explosions that put everyone in the vicinity at risk of harm, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and occupants of vehicles.
- Occupational injuries — Not only can lifting a manhole cover cause musculoskeletal conditions in workers, but they can also be injured as a result of fire, explosions, steam, and falls.
If you’ve been injured in a manhole accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. Whether or not you think you’ve been hurt, some injuries do not appear until several days or weeks later. Not only is getting the medical help you need vital for your health, but also to document any personal injury claim you may have. If possible, you should also take photos of the condition of the manhole and obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses.
Liability for Manhole Accident Injuries
Determining liability for a manhole accident is complex and requires a thorough investigation by an experienced personal injury attorney. Critically, there are many different city agencies and entities that can be responsible for manholes. They may be owned by entities and authorities such as the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the FDNY, Verizon, Con Edison, the MTA, or National Grid.
However, regardless of which entity owns the manhole, another may be responsible for maintaining it. While the DEP is the agency that responds to cover problems, the Department of Transportation must periodically inspect roadways and ensure they are secure. In addition, Con Edison is responsible for investigating issues related to steam and smoke emanating from manholes.
To hold a party liable for your manhole accident injuries, you must establish that they were negligent. This can be done by showing that the entity responsible for the manhole knew about the dangerous condition but failed to remedy it or provide a warning. You may also be able to bring a claim if you can prove that the owner of the manhole created the hazard.
Since manhole accidents involve the City of New York, it’s essential to be aware that there are much shorter statutes of limitation to bring a personal injury lawsuit. In litigation involving the City or one of its agencies, it’s crucial to note that you must also file a Notice of Claim within 90 days from the accident date. Failure to do so can forever bar you from recovering compensation for your manhole accident injuries.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you were hurt in a manhole accident, you might be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover your damages. The personal injury attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have more than three decades of experience helping manhole accident victims in New York obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a consultation.