The Office of New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Thursday released a report that found personal injury claims against the New York City Police Department, the Parks Department and the Department of Environmental Protection have dropped, bucking a decades-old trend.
However, in other city agencies, such as the Department of Sanitation and Health and Hospitals Corporation, claims continue to rise.
Claims were analyzed for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 from Claimstat, a data-driven management system launched by the Comptrollers office in 2014 that records thousands of claims that lead to lawsuits against the City. The Adopted Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 sets aside $710 million to pay settlements and judgments from lawsuits brought against the City of New York. That is more than $83 per New York City resident that is devoted to claims, ranging from falling tree limbs and unfilled potholes, to medical malpractice and civil rights violations.
The report revealed that personal injury police action claims declined nearly 13 percent during the year, with overall claims against the Police Department down 12 percent from FY14. However, several precincts in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn continue to see high claims activity, even after correcting for crime rates. In the report, the comptroller also identifies areas for improvement and recommendations.
“I’m happy to report that claims against the City have declined in many areas,” Comptroller Stringer said. “The NYPD in particular is doing a great job of bringing down the overall number of claims, and their approach should serve as an example for every City agency to follow.”
The report found that in Brooklyn:
- Personal injury police action claims against the New York Police Department fell in the 101st precinct in the Far Rockaways, from 44 to 35; and the 76th precinct in Red Hook, from 23 to 14.
- Following a 143 percent spike in settlements and judgments at the Department of Parks from FY08 to FY13, in FY14, judgments and claims costs dropped from $29.6 million to $15.8 million, a decline of 47 percent and the lowest total since FY09.
- Overall, sewer overflow claims dropped at the Department of Environmental Protection, from 589 in FY14 to 446 in FY15.In Brooklyn, the number of claims fell sharply in the neighborhoods of Bergen Beach and Canarsie in Brooklyn Community District 18, from 328 claims to 9 claims.
Where claims continue to increase:
- Although there is a general downward trend of claims against Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), (claims declining from 982 in FY13 to 902 in FY15), between FY14 and FY15, there was a slight increase, from 876 to 902. Medical malpractice claims grew at Coney Island, from 31 claims to 43.
- Property damage motor vehicle claims against the Department of Sanitation grew by 41 percent from FY12-FY13 to FY14-FY15 (from 1,999 to 2,825). A preliminary analysis suggests that much of the increase in claims is due to above-average snowfall in recent years, requiring Sanitation to put more vehicles and plows on the road, often under challenging conditions. The Brooklyn community district with the most claims filed in FY14-FY15 included District 12 in Borough Park, with 56 claims. However, one Brooklyn district that reported a decline in claims includes District 17 in Flatbush, which was down 7 claims.
“We stand ready to work with every City agency to make sure they have access to the ClaimStat data that will enable them develop long term strategies that make New York safer, while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars,” Stringer said.
To read the full report, go here.