For most of us, police chases are an exciting part of an action film, not something we are expecting to see on the local news. And we certainly do not expect to become indirectly involved as an innocent bystander.
For those who have been injured due to a police chase, or family members of someone killed in a resulting crash, it quickly becomes a grim reality. If this has happened to you or a loved one, you may be at a loss planning your next steps. You may also have many questions about your legal rights and options after the accident.
If you are suffering the sad effects of a New York police chase car accident, the trusted team at Cellino Law can help. Our team has been assisting injured New Yorkers for over 60 years, giving us the experience, resources, and know-how needed to fight for you and your family. Contact us today at 800-555-5555 to schedule a free consultation at a time and place convenient for you.
Why Do Police Chases Happen?
In many cases, a police chase follows what was supposed to be a routine, uneventful traffic stop. A police officer attempts to stop a vehicle for a minor problem, such as expired plates or tinted windows, but the driver attempts to get away.
In other cases, police officers respond to a potentially violent offender who poses a threat to public safety and leads police on a chase.
A driver could run away from the police due to:
- Driving under the influence
- Having drugs in the vehicle
- Having weapons in the vehicle
- Knowing there are warrants out for the arrest of the driver or passengers
- Driving with a suspended license
- Driving a stolen vehicle
During a police chase, the driver may not be thinking reasonably about his or her decision. These are panicked actions that – more often than not – end in car accidents.
Police Chase Accidents in New York
New York is no stranger to the danger of police chase accidents. For example, in December 2020, a driver of a stolen SUV in Yonkers led police on a chase that ended in serious injuries to a sergeant and 3 suspects.
Again in October 2021, a man fleeing in a stolen truck in Suffolk County crashed into a vehicle, killing a 19-year-old man and injuring 2 others.
Generally, the end goal of the suspect is to get away as fast as possible – safety is secondary at most. This increases the likelihood of a serious crash, as the driver is being extremely negligent. The fleeing driver may:
- Run a red light
- Speed excessively
- Make intentional contact with other vehicles
- Drive recklessly in general
What Are Police Department Policies Regarding Police Chases?
The risks of police chases, especially those in high-traffic areas and at a high rate of speed, are obvious. Not only do they often result in serious property damage, but they also frequently end in serious injury or death to an innocent bystander. Across the US and within New York State, many jurisdictions are trying to limit or suspend police chases.
For example, in Albany, one general order states that “the apprehension of a fleeing suspect operating a motor vehicle is to be considered secondary in importance to public safety. Pursuit driving at any speed is inherently dangerous.”
The Guilderland police department and NYPD also recognize the need to mitigate the dangers of police chase accidents. Both departments have policies outlining that police officers should terminate the pursuit when the danger to the public becomes greater than it would be if the suspect were allowed to go free.
How Do Police Officers Decide Whether to Pursue or Not?
As a general rule, many New York police jurisdictions require their officers to consider these factors before engaging in a pursuit:
- Level of danger the suspect poses to public
- Seriousness of the offense
- Possibility of identifying the suspect later
- Possibility of apprehending the suspect later
- Likelihood that the suspect is armed
- Speed of the fleeing vehicle
- Current weather and road conditions
- Area and location (school zone, residential neighborhood, etc)
- Time of day (rush hour, school dismissal, etc)
In many cases, there are no clear-cut rules on when to pursue and when to hold back. Since it is an officer’s personal judgment call, it can be difficult to determine whether the police chase was really necessary or safe.
Can a Lawsuit Be Made After a Police Chase?
New York is a no-fault state, meaning that an insurance claim would be made to your personal insurance company after an accident to cover medical bills and other personal injury damages. Property damage claims are separate from injury claims.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is in place to cover some accident-related expenses, such as:
- Medical bills
- Partial lost income
- Replacement services
- Death benefit
Unfortunately, PIP does not cover any emotional damages caused by the accident. When police chase accidents end in “serious injury,” the injury victim may be able to pursue additional damages through a third-party lawsuit.
Suing the fleeing suspect
According to New York State law, “serious injuries” include:
- Significant disfigurement
- Bone fracture
- Permanent limitation of use of an organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Substantially full disability for 90 days
In a third-party lawsuit, personal injury victims can receive total compensation for all financial losses without the limits of PIP coverage. In addition, emotional damages such as pain and suffering are available as well.
Suing the police
State laws regarding suing a law enforcement agency vary, but they usually have strict requirements and deadlines. In New York, a notice of a claim must be served to the government agency (in this case the police department) within 90 days of the incident. After serving the notice of a claim, the injury victim has 1 year and 90 days from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.
There are specific requirements for what must be included in this notice and how it must be served. Time is of the essence in any personal injury case, but especially when a government agency is liable. Working with the experienced lawyers of Cellino Law can be essential in ensuring your claim is accurately filed.
Police chase accidents are not all the same. Your lawyer can investigate the specific details of your case to determine whether there were liable parties within the police department.
For example, he or she can determine whether current chase policies were followed, or if reasonable measures were taken to protect public safety. This may involve working with our law firm’s extensive network of professionals and expert witnesses to prove your case.
Let Cellino Law Help With Your New York Police Chase Accident
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a New York police chase accident, you should not be left on your own to deal with mounting financial and emotional burdens. State laws have been put in place to protect accident victims – but you need a legal team on your side that can fight for you to receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
When police chases result in car accidents and personal injuries, the lawyers at Cellino Law are here for you. We can provide you and your family with the representation you need to fight the insurance company or court and make sure your case is heard.
Our team is available 24/7 at 800-555-5555 for a free consultation about your potential police chase collision case. Let us put our experience, resources, and dedication to work for you!