Feldman, Kronfeld & Beatty Law Blog

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dangers Under Your Feet: Falling Into Sidewalk Vaults

The offices of Feldman, Kronfeld & Beatty have been located in lower Manhattan for twenty five years. In those times, and as the lawyers and staff use the subways, buses, and taxis of New York City to get to court, to depositions, to interview clients, and to inspect accident sites, sometimes we pass over sidewalk vaults. And, as we learned this week, and as the clients of Feldman, Kronfeld & Beatty know from personal experience, sidewalk grates are dangerous.

CBS New York reported that on Thursday, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, a man fell into a sidewalk grate. However, we know many people who have fallen into sidewalk vaults and sidewalk grates, and there is a significant difference between the two. Sidewalk grates are located in the sidewalk, away from the building, and they are usually part of ConEd's or another utility's access points. A sidewalk vault is part of the premises, which allows street-level access directly to the basement, and is often used to transport goods into the basement or trash from above. In either case, it is unlikely that someone is falling into a sidewalk vault or grate at 3PM in midtown Manhattan without there being some likelihood that the owners and/or managers of the grate or sidewalk are negligent.

In this case, the man fell 12 feet into that open sidewalk vault and hit his head, sustaining a laceration and according to a witness "bleeding all over the place." He was taken to Bellevue Hospital but according to the report, appears to be in stable condition and will recover. Others, however, may not be so lucky.

If you or a loved one has fallen into a sidewalk vault or grate and is injured, you should speak to an experienced trial lawyer to discuss your rights and potential claims. The attorneys at Feldman, Kronfeld & Beatty are available for a free consultation at (212) 425-0230 and at

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