To sue a city

Is it possible to sue a city in NY for leaving a 4 foot puddle in the middle of a main road without having warning signs telling you to avoid it?
My car is completely ruined thanks to this and my insurance company won’t cover the damage since it’s comprehensive and i only have liability.

It is certainly possible to sue a city in the U.S. It happens all the time.

Whether this particular event is a good one to sue over is something for a lawyer to determine.

How could a puddle possibly completely ruin a car?

Yup. Even though IAAL with experience in local government issues, I’m not going to touch this one. There are too many variables. See a lawyer licensed in NY.

Talk to a lawyer in your area.


I believe he meant a puddle four feet deep.

Many municipalities in New York, and I’m including New York City in this one, basically , if you are the first one to report a hole in the road, or a cracked sidewalk that you tripped over, you got a case. Once the powers that be have been notified, they put the problem on a ‘fix it’ schedule, and get to it when they can. I don’t know if you have to get in line for a lawsuit if you’re not the first reporter, but usually, the first accident will get the settlement, oh, 10 years down the road.

Free piece of legal advice: The time limit to sue a city is often very very short. If you want to pursue the claim, you should get right on it.

Oh and by the way, you shouldn’t necessarily assume it’s the city that’s responsible. It might be some other entity.

Yes, you can attempt to sue the city, but your complaint has to meet certain criteria.

First, the condition has to have been reported. If the city did not have actual or constructive knowledge of the condition, they are not liable. The city also must have had a reasonable amount of time to ameliorate (e.g., cordon the area off) or correct the problem.

Now, was this puddle 4 feet deep or 4 feet wide? Deep would indicate a sinkhole type condition, but it could have just happened. Wide would indicate the puddle was the result of rain or other water condition, in which case, you are responsible to take due care when driving near it (i.e., slow down, go around, etc.).

Most likely, if your case has any kind of merit and you press suit, the city will offer you a settlement rather than go to court. That, however, could take a couple years in larger cities. In New York City, the average case of this type takes 3-5 years to get to court.

Well, that’s not a puddle. That’s a hole.

More like a sinkhole.