The New York City Comptroller’s office recently released a report showing that between July 1, 2019 until June 30, 2020, New York City paid $142.4 million to settle “1,390 claims filed by people injured by the on-the-job driving practices of city employees.” StreetsBlog NYC reported earlier this month that this figure reflects a 3% increase in car crash claims since the previous fiscal year and a 33% increase in total settlements.
In contrast to the increase in claims concerning injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, according to StreetsBlog, the Comptroller’s report showed a decline in total personal injury claims against New York City, “from 16,713 in fiscal year 2019 to 15,553 in 2020.” In a statement, Comptroller Scott Stringer suggested this was tied to the coronavirus pandemic, saying: “The pandemic took an unimaginable toll on our neighbors and loved ones, small businesses, and the way we all work and live. Protecting and strengthening the city’s fiscal health is now more important than ever to make a strong economic recovery.”
The Comptroller’s Annual Claims Report also includes data concerning slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice, and “police action” claims, all of which declined in 2020 compared to 2019. New York City paid a total of $545.8 million to settle tort claims, of which $60.2 million were for “legacy” personal injury tort claims filed before Fiscal Year 2011. When these claims are excluded from the data, according to the Comptroller’s office, “personal injury tort claim payouts declined from $575.4 million in FY 2019 to $478.7 million in FY 2020.”
Nonetheless, StreetsBlog observes, Fiscal Year 2020 represented the fourth year in a row that New York City paid car crash victims “more than $100 million for crash settlements.” StreetsBlog also noted that “vehicle crashes caused by city employees” comprise 26% of claims filed against New York City, more than any other category; the second is “settlements for injuries caused by cops,” which accounted for 15% of claims and resulted in $82.6 million in settlements.
In a statement to StreetsBlog, the New York City Mayor’s Office attributed a decline in the total number of motor vehicle crashes to city initiatives, like safety training for thousands of city employees. “We have also placed nearly 60,000 safety improvements on fleet units including telematics, back-up cameras, truck side-guards, automatic braking, and driver alert systems,” a spokesperson told StreetsBlog.