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New York City comptroller aims to prevent personal injury claims

In 2012, the story of one of Smiley & Smiley, LLP’s clients was profiled in The New York Times. This story of an individual suffering injury after being hit by falling branches in parks, streets and green spaces owned by New York City is unacceptably common. A staggering number of New Yorkers and tourists are injured or killed annually as a result of injuries sustained in Central Park accidents, accidents occurring on tree-lined streets and accidents in other NYC green spaces.

The city’s comptroller office seems newly willing to respond to tree-related hazards around the city, if only because the personal injury suits which are filed in the wake of these accidents tend to cost the city a great deal of money in damages. According to The New York Times, a single lawsuit filed on behalf of a young engineer who was severely injured in Central Park in 2009 cost the city $11.5 million in damages. This amount is significant when compared to the roughly $3.5 million that NYC annually spends on tree pruning and maintenance.

In response to the number of individuals being injured by trees maintained by the city, the comptroller’s office recently announced that it has developed methods to identify which city areas are at greatest risk for tree-related accidents. It will now be outfitting various city agencies with a warning system designed to improve the safety of New Yorkers and tourists alike.

The new system is being referred to as ClaimStat and it uses data from claims filed against the city to spot patterns of injury in ways that will allow city agencies to better respond to various hotspots.

Source: New York Times, “Comptroller Aims to Curb Personal-Injury Claims Against New York City,” Benjamin Weiser, July 9, 2014

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