Insurer Must Defend NYC in Central Park Accident Suit

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, has ruled that Travellers, the major insurance company, must defend New York City in a personal injury suit that was brought against it. Travellers had been trying to avoid being entangled in the case, saying that they had no responsibility to defend the city in the suit. However, the court ruled that the contractor’s insurance policy also covered the City, meaning the insurer must defend the City in court.

What Was the Underlying Case?

The case involved a woman who was injured while taking a walk through Central Park in New York City. Without warning, a tree branch fell on her, causing significant harm, including fractured ribs and injuries to her head, neck, left hip, left elbow, right knee and right foot. She subsequently sued New York City and the contractor in charge of maintaining the trees in the park, accusing them of failing to properly maintain the trees by pruning dead or damaged branches.

What Was the Question at Issue?

    When the injured woman brought the lawsuit, New York City tried to have Travellers, the insurer that holds the contractor’s insurance policy, defend them in court and pay for the costs of the suit. Travellers, however, did not want to defend against the suit, and tried to claim that they had no responsibility because the contractor was not working on that tree at the time of the accident. Thus, they claimed, they had no responsibility to defend the City as the contractor’s insurer.

What Was the Decision?

The First Department ruled that the contractor’s insurance policy would include New York City as one of the covered parties. While the contractor had not been working on the tree at the time of the accident, it had a contractual obligation to maintain the tree generally. As a result, the contractor could be held liable if it was found to be negligent. And, because New York City and Central Park were both parties to the litigation, they were also covered by the contractor’s insurance policy. Thus, they had to defend the City against the lawsuit in court.

What is the Significance of This Suit?

This lawsuit shows how complicated even a seemingly simple case can become when it involves municipal governments, like cities, towns, or villages. In addition to the City itself, private contractors and insurance companies can also get involved, making things that much more complicated. That is why you need guidance from a lawyer experienced in personal injury law, who can guide you through the process and get you the best possible outcome for your case.

If you have been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, or due to the misconduct of a municipal authority, seeking the advice from an attorney experienced in personal injury law will help assure you get the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC assist clients in collecting the damages they need to cope with being the victim of negligence. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York personal injury lawyers, call (888) LAW-8088 or fill out our contact form.

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