Suing the City of New York for compensation is tricky, usually requiring an attorney who understands the complex laws and rules that apply to such lawsuits. However, it can be done successfully with a strong case and a knowledgeable lawyer.
Stats on Lawsuits From the City Comptroller’s Office
The city comptroller’s office recently released statistics about lawsuits filed against the city. For example, in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, there were 8,519 notices of claims filed against the city as required when a lawsuit will allege that state law was broken. This may sound like a large number, but these are only notices of intent to file; not all of them turn into full-blown lawsuits.
There are also federal lawsuits, which do not require advance notification. In 2015, there were 1,111 lawsuits filed against the city charging violation of federal law.
Many Claims Involve Police Misconduct
Many of the federal claims involve charges of police misconduct. The mayor points to a decrease in federal lawsuits against the city that shows relations between police and the community are improving. However, civil rights attorneys note that the city has become more aggressive in fighting lawsuits in an effort to win over the police unions, discouraging people from seeking compensation for police misconduct and abuse.
Despite efforts by the city to try to reduce the number of lawsuits against it for police misconduct, people hurt or families of those killed by police received $216.9 million in compensation in the 2014 fiscal year. The claims included false imprisonment, wrongful conviction, false arrest and claims against the city’s Department of Corrections for personal injuries suffered in the city’s jails and prisons.
Other Types of Claims Against NYC
In addition to police misconduct cases, residents and visitors bring lawsuits against the city after suffering injuries in slip-and-falls and for motor vehicle property damage from potholes and other street defects. Medical malpractice claims also are filed against city hospitals and other medical facilities (through the city’s Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS). People also file claims against the Department of Transportation, the Department of Sanitation and the Department of Education. Together with the police department and HHS, these agencies account for most of the claims filed against the city.
People also file claims against the fire department (NYFD), the city’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Where Claims Are Filed
The city comptroller also provides statistics about where claims are filed. For example, in fiscal year 2014, the borough with the greatest number of claims was the Bronx, followed by Brooklyn. Although second in the number of claims received in 2014, the city paid out the most for Brooklyn for claims resolved in that year (resolution of claims numbers include payments for claims filed in previous years, but resolved in 2014).
Filing a Claim Against the City Is Complicated
To make matters more complicated for injured plaintiffs, the process of filing a claim against the city depends on the agency named as the defendant. For example, most claims against the city should be filed with the comptroller’s office, which has the power to investigate and settle claims after the notice of claim is filed. If the city and the plaintiff are unable to reach a settlement, the injured person may then begin the process of filing a lawsuit. However, medical malpractice claims should be filed with HHS.
This is just one example of the in-depth knowledge required to bring a claim against the city of New York for injuries suffered because of the negligence of city officials, employees and lawmakers. It is important to have experienced representation in such matters.