A lot of bad things can happen in a year and New York City expects to pay out $735 million for its share of them in 2012. The city’s budget documents show that it forecasted this enormous amount to cover the cost of the harm that it’s unsafe actions will cause to it’s residents, and expects to pay as compensation through settlements and jury awards from a number of personal injury sources, including accidents involving the city’s motor vehicles, pothole accidents, police brutality, and malpractice cases arising from city hospitals.
This number is based on the city’s past experience and calculations of expected payouts in ongoing cases that the city plans to resolve before the end of the year. This budget category rose to $735 million from $664 million in the 2011 fiscal year, and suggests that virtually no efforts are being made by the city to address the root cause of the required compensation payments: unsafe conditions and actions of the city.
New York City pays a much higher amount than other cities. For example, Los Angeles only pays around $14 per person or $54 million total. New York City pays $81 per capita. Part of this gap reflects the structure of government operations in New York. The city is responsible for many more government functions, including public schools and city-run hospitals.
While the city attempts to play the victim and escape responsibility for needlessly hurting others, it fails to present any plan to eliminate unsafe conditions in the city and prevent city agencies from violating safety rules that needlessly hurt city residents. Nor does it acknowledge that the city already enjoys certain protections from responsibility under the prior written notice law. Maybe someday there will be a story asking why city officials are not held responsible for choosing to needlessly endanger the public instread of making our city safer. For now we must rely on the justice system to hold the city accountable.
Source: Bloomberg, “NYC Police Abuse Joins Pothole Settlements Costing $735 Million,” Henry Goldman, Sept. 3, 2012