Personal injury claims are very common in New York City. The city faces approximately 6,400 personal injury lawsuits annually, ranging from minor slip and fall lawsuits to wrongful death actions. A recent article in the New York Times indicates that although city officials often offer their condolences after a resident is injured, city lawyers are sometimes unacceptably aggressive in combating legitimate personal injury claims.
“There is no question that when you litigate against the city, they push the envelope to limit payouts,” one former city lawyer said.
The New York Times noted the city’s legal strategies in the context of personal injury lawsuits related to falling trees. The lawsuits detail that the city’s maintenance and inspection of trees is erratic and that more diligence by city workers may have prevented citizen injuries and deaths.
New York City’s aggressive manner in responding to the falling-tree lawsuits raises the interesting competing obligations that city lawyers face. Aggressive legal tactics in personal injury lawsuits are not illegal, but city attorneys have unique duty to also ensure fair outcomes for residents with legitimate personal injury claims.
The city’s corporation counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, has launched an aggressive public campaign to limit the number of payouts to injured residents. Cardozo believes that courts unfairly punish the city in personal injury cases and that many residents receive more compensation than they are due. The New York Times article also highlights instances where the city has conducted secret monitoring of plaintiffs or spoiled evidence in order to gain an advantage in court.
An injured New York resident should hire a personal injury law firm that has the resources and legal experience necessary maintain a successful lawsuit against the city. Hiring a less experienced attorney may mean that an injured individual does not receive all of the compensation that he or she is entitled to.
Source: New York Times, “Sued Over Death and Injury From Trees, City Fights Back,” William Glaberson, May 15, 2012