Police officers have one of the most difficult jobs in the world, with tremendous physical and mental demands laid upon them nearly every moment of the day. That does not, however, make them immune to mistakes—some of which can have serious consequences for other people.
For example, a police officer might lose control of his vehicle during a pursuit and strike a pedestrian. When something like this happens, the victim is often seriously hurt, dazed, and unsure what to do next. If you’re hurt by someone else, one of the first things you do is call the police. But what do you do if it’s the police that hit you?
Fortunately, you are not powerless in this situation. You can hold the New York Police Department liable for your injuries and damaged property, but you must act right away. Call a top NYC car accident lawyer at (212) 986-7353 and talk to Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP.
Can the Police Be Negligent?
Yes. Although they have more protections under the law, particularly civil laws, police officers can still be found negligent. However, it’s more difficult to show that negligence occurred, since the legal system gives police officers a great deal of leeway in their behavior.
When negligence or professional malpractice occurs, police officers and their department can be held liable for their actions. This is seen sometimes in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against officers accused of using excessive force in the line of duty. But a police officer who strikes another person or vehicle with his car can also be found negligent. When this happens, you can use a lawsuit to hold the police department liable for the damage it caused.
How Do I Sue the NYPD?
In order to sue the police department here in New York, there are two very important deadlines you need to meet. You have 90 days from the time an accident occurs, like a police officer striking your vehicle with his car, to file a report with the city. When suing any government agency in New York, including law enforcement, you must file a Notice of Claim with that agency within 90 days of the accident happening.
As long as you do this properly, you have one year and 90 days from when the accident occurred to file a civil lawsuit against the police department. That is a shorter statute of limitations than a regular personal injury claim under the law, which is intentional and designed to protect the government from as many lawsuits as possible.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Claim?
While you do not have to have a lawyer to file a lawsuit against the police department for a traffic collision, it is recommended. Handling the details of any lawsuit requires the expertise of an attorney, and a lawsuit against the NYPD only makes things more complicated. Winning this kind of claim often requires expert testimony, perhaps by a retired law enforcement officer, and accident reconstructions. These are not things you should try to handle on your own—but WRSH can.
- Our Successes – $425,000 Settlement
We were able to receive a settlement for our client when her car was struck by a police vehicle. She had been pulled over for a routine traffic stop and the officer left his vehicle in gear, which caused it to crash into her. The impact caused severe damage to her wrist, requiring surgical treatment. The court found the officer 100% responsible for the collision and we obtained a settlement of $425,000 without even going to trial.
- Our Successes – $710,000 Recovered
On another occasion, we recovered damages for a 60-year-old client involved in a collision with a police vehicle. Our client was heading home and was rammed by an unmarked police van pursuing a vehicle that had made an illegal turn. The accident fractured his hip, requiring surgery. We recovered $710,000 in this case.
- Our Successes – $400,000 Settlement
Sometimes the police themselves can be impacted by the actions of other officers. We obtained a settlement for a police officer who was injured in the line of duty when another officer collided with his vehicle. The impact fractured our client’s clavicle and surgery was required. We received a $400,000 settlement in this case, a few months prior to going to trial.
As you can see, Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, knows how to handle these cases. Contact us at (212) 986-7353 to talk about your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney.