For most people, a police stop is nothing more than a frustrating delay and a minor fine. However, when a routine stop turns into reckless driving or a hit-and-run crash, innocent people may suffer severe physical, emotional and financial consequences. Consider the dangers of reckless driving, some do’s and don’ts when pulled over and the right you have to compensation if hit by a negligent driver in Manhattan.
The Dangers of Police Chases and Reckless Driving
On April 19, 2023, police in midtown Manhattan pulled over a 56-year-old man named Benjamin Abrams for improperly changing lanes at West 39th Street and 7th Avenue. Abrams produced fraudulent documents and took off when police asked him to step outside his vehicle. According to a news report, he nearly hit a woman with a walker on the sidewalk, struck two officers, plowed through an outdoor dining structure and crashed into another vehicle before running away on foot.
The police identified and arrested Abrams less than a month later, and the officers he injured reported stable conditions in a nearby hospital. Now, Abrams faces the consequences for whatever prompted him to run, as well as potential personal injury and damaged property claims from several individuals. He could also serve up to seven years in prison for a hit-and-run charge.
Common Mistakes People Make When Pulled Over
What lesson can anyone learn from the Abrams case about what not to do during a police stop? Consider some common mistakes people make that could that may cause unnecessary distress and damage:
- Talking too much. Being argumentative or disrespectful, even when the officer is wrong, can escalate a traffic stop. Talking excessively is a common nervous tick, but avoiding conversation and trying to explain actions is rarely a good idea.
- Stepping out of the vehicle without prompting. The police are always on high alert for signs of danger or aggression, and stepping outside the vehicle may lead them to believe they are at risk for harm. Again, this could escalate the situation and result in danger or arrest.
- Running away or resisting arrest. Among the many mistakes Abrams made, running from the police was the most common. In New York, that is a felony charge.
Trying to escape the police is never the solution, and the consequences can be astronomical. In Abrams’s case, it will likely result in several civil claims.
When Reckless Driving Becomes a Civil Claim
Reckless drivers subject to criminal charges may face a civil claim simultaneously. In this case, the victims must prove the driver’s negligence under a significantly lower burden of proof. Then, they present evidence linking the accident and their injuries to the losses they suffered, leaving the reckless driver responsible for the damages they caused.
Damages are the losses victims of personal injury suffered. For example, in the Abrams case, if the two officers and the person driving the vehicle Abrams struck suffered severe injuries, they could bypass New York’s no-fault system and file a claim for their losses. Those losses include economic and non-economic damages:
- The cost of their medical care, including emergency services, hospital stays, medications, surgeries and long-term care
- The total lost income, including wages missed during recovery and loss of earning capacity, if their injuries resulted in an inability to do the job they did before the accident
- The cost of replacement services, such as transportation to medical treatments, child care and assistance with household duties
- The physical pain and suffering that severe injuries cause, including the pain associated with necessary treatments
- The emotional pain and suffering, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress
The restaurant owner who sustained enormous structural damage can sue for the cost of repairing their property. Additionally, the driver struck by Abrams could claim the cost of repairing or replacing their vehicle.
What To Do if an Officer Pulls You Over in Midtown Manhattan
Knowing your rights is critical in any traffic stop. In many cases, it could be the difference between a minor or major offense. For example, you have the right to remain silent. Being cooperative and non-aggressive with the police does not mean you must answer questions beyond essential identification. Once you provide your license, registration and insurance information, you can politely tell the officer that you chose to remain silent, indicating that you will no longer answer their questions.
You also do not have to consent to a vehicle search. Police may ask to search your vehicle, but you can refuse. Without your permission, they may still be able to conduct a search, but only if they have probable cause.
What To Do if You Are the Victim of Someone Evading a Police Stop
Victims of reckless drivers can take steps to protect their personal injury claim in the immediate aftermath of the accident:
- Report the incident. Contact the police right away to make a record of the accident.
- Document everything. If you can, take photographs of the scene or record a video detailing what happened from your perspective. Include images of damage to your property and visible injuries.
- Seek medical attention. See a doctor immediately to create a medical record of your injuries, connecting it to the accident.
- Contact an attorney. Personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the necessary steps to file your claim.
Hit-and-run, reckless driver accidents can be complex. However, the at-fault party must be held accountable when a traffic stop results in personal injuries and property damage. That is where a personal injury attorney can step in and fight for justice.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Helps Victims of Reckless Drivers
Unfortunately, some people will run from the police to avoid accountability. In a crowded city like Manhattan, that can result in dangerous or even deadly consequences for people in the area. If you suffered an injury or lost a loved one in an accident involving a negligent driver, you can seek compensation for your loss and deserve legal representation that will fight for you. Contact Cellino Law to schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney today.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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