Who Is Responsible If Your Mailbox Is Damaged By A Snow Plow In New York?
When mailboxes get smashed by a snow plow, who is responsible? What are the next steps after you've picked up all the pieces?
People try to protect their own mailboxes
You've probably seen people who put up pallets or pieces of plywood in front of their mailboxes across New York state. The reason people do that is to help protect the mailbox from getting damaged by passing snow plows. Whether it's the plow that actually strikes the mailbox, or the heavy snow wave that hits it, those mailboxes can go through a lot.
Before I go too far in this post, I want to make sure that I'm being clear. This is not a post to criticize or blame snow plow drivers when mailboxes get damaged. The job that they do, many times on a lack of sleep, is ridiculously important to keeping us going. Their job isn't to protect your mailbox. It's to clear streets and they do the best job they can do.
Who is responsible if your mailbox gets damaged?
Technically, you are.
"According to New York State's Highway Law, when the necessities of keeping the highway open conflict with the reception of mail, the latter must stand aside."
Mailboxes are actually considered an obstruction according to Section 319 of New York State's Highway Law and are only allowed to be on the side of the road as a courtesy to the homeowner.
What should you do if your mailbox is damaged by a plow?
The first thing you should do is call the town or municipality. They might, as a courtesy, offer to repair your mailbox. Although they probably won't replace it, they will normally ensure that you have a place where you can, at the very least, receive mail until you have the ability to replace it on your own.
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