New York City paid out $520.6 million in settlements of personal injury claims in the 2010 fiscal year according to Comptroller John C. Liu. This is a seven percent decrease from what New York paid out in 2009. For the first time in the past 30 years, awards for personal injury claims against the NYPD was the largest cost to the city in regards to legal settlements involving personal injury. About 67 percent of the city’s payments go to claims against the NYPD, city hospitals and the Department of Transportation.
Settlements in claims against the police department cost New York City $135.8 this year, while the amount that the city paid for the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which mostly comes from medical malpractice cases, totaled $134.4 million. A spokesperson for the HHC, Ana Merengo, said that the agency was able to cut costs through “aggressive investigations, a focus on risk management reviews, court-assisted mediation and using claims information to inform our patient safety efforts.” The agency uses a third party administrator whenever they conduct investigations into any new claim.
Civil rights claims, motor vehicle accident settlements and police action claims cost the city $78.8 million, $65.1 million and $56.4 million respectively. Non-tort settlements saw a big jump in the past year, rising to $165.1 million because of tuition reimbursement to parents who must send their children to private schools so that they can receive special education services not offered in public schools.
The good news for the city is that claim payouts have dropped 12 percent since 2001 according to the Corporation Counsel’s Office. The city has used risk management strategies to help reduce the number of claims. Another big step to reducing claims was a 2003 law, which shifted the liability for defective sidewalks from the city to the private property owners. However, Mayor Michael Bloomberg does not expect this downward trend to continue. He set aside $655 million for tort claims in the 2012 fiscal year. The increase in the amount has not been tied to any specific event.