July 1, 2003
Report: NYC paid $525 million in claims in 2002, with record number of million-dollar payouts
New York City paid $525 million in settlements and judgments from claims for personal injury, property damage, and contract disputes in fiscal year 2002, down by $55.5 million from the previous year, a new report from the city comptroller said.
The number of new claims against the city in 2002 also dropped to its lowest level in 11 years, according to "Claims Report 2001-2002." But the costs of the lawsuit industry in New York City last year remained nearly 200 percent higher than in 1990, the report added. Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. released the report July 1.
The 2001 total of claims paid, $580.5 million, was a 26 percent increase over the total of $459.2 million in fiscal 2000, the report noted. In 1990, the city recorded $176 million in claim costs.
Most payouts were in tort cases. Only 8 percent of the 2002 payments, or $40.3 million, was for contract claims, which typically involve disputes with city contractors and claims related to wages and sidewalk assessments.
The report also showed that:
- In fiscal year 2002, a record 94 cases were resolved for $1 million or more apiece, totaling $240.7 million, or 46 percent of the $525 million paid out that year. Fifty of the 94 cases resolved for $1 million or more were medical malpractice cases; and 36 of those involved allegations of inadequate or improper obstetrical or gynecological care.
- For the last 11 years, personal injury claims have been the most costly of all claims. In 2002, personal injury claims (including medical malpractice) totaled $474.8 million, or 90 percent of all payments. The average payment for all personal injury cases was $61,833, up 5 percent over the previous year.
- Medical malpractice claims are a small fractions of personal injury claims filed but were the costliest personal injury claims paid each of the past 11 fiscal years.
- Sidewalk claims are the most frequent personal injury claim. In fiscal year 2002, 3,276 sidewalk claims were filed against the city, a nine-percent decrease from the 3,606 sidewalk claims filed in 2002.
"A thoughtful re-examination of our tort laws would further relive the city of its unacceptably high claims costs," Thompson said. "By taking a determined and unwavering look at claims, we can forge a process that is responsive to those who file legitimate actions and that reduces the heavy burden on taxpayers."
The report is available at www.comptroller.nyc.gov.