“Can a Police Officer be liable for an accident?”
Apr 01, 2019 | 3328 views | 0 0 comments | 180 180 recommendations | email to a friend | print

A 43-year-old driver followed the police officer’s direction to pull over, after blocking the junction box during rush hour. He pulled over toward the front of a bus stop, which was slightly beyond the intersection. While trying to talk the traffic enforcement officer out of giving him a ticket, his vehicle was struck by a bus. He argued that the bus driver negligently attempted to pull into the bus stop at a very sharp angle, hitting the driver’s side of the car.

The bus driver said he saw the stopped vehicle as he approached the bus stop. When he pulled in safely to discharge passengers, the driver of the car started driving and collided with the bus.

Because of this collision, the car driver sustained injuries and was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Diagnostic tests performed at the hospital did not show any fractures, and he was discharged the same day. Subsequently, he followed up with an orthopedist who recommended MRIs of the spine. The tests showed cervical herniation that required fusion surgery.

The injured man (plaintiff) started a personal injury action against the City of New York and the New York City Transit Authority. He claimed that the bus driver’s testimony given at the deposition was inconsistent with his trial testimony, in that although the bus driver continued to indicate at trial that the plaintiff started moving and struck him, the incident occurred as the bus driver was pulling into the bus stop. The injured driver introduced photographs that he took after the accident. They showed that the plaintiff’s vehicle emergency lights were on, which in his opinion, demonstrated that the bus had struck his car rather than the other way around.

Under New York State threshold law, the injured person must establish that he or she sustained a “serious injury” as a result of a motor vehicle accident.  The law states specific categories of injuries that constitute a “serious injury.” The plaintiff must demonstrate that his or her injuries fall within the statute.

Approximately seven years earlier, the same injured driver was a passenger in a car that was struck in the rear in another motor vehicle accident. Because of a lumbar herniation sustained in that collision, he required a lumbar fusion. At that time, he worked as a food delivery driver and was unable to work for five years after the spinal surgery.

He returned to part-time work two years before the last accident, earning approximately $8,500 during the first year and $9,500 in the year preceding the bus accident. He further claimed that he has not worked since the bus collision and maintained that he would never be able to go back to work because of his injuries. In the bus accident, he suffered a cervical herniation that necessitated fusion surgery that included the insertion of hardware into his spine. He also claimed aggravation of the prior lumbar herniation that required a spinal cord stimulator. He argued that this treatment provided limited relief and that he will permanently suffer severe pain and permanent limitation of his body functions. Plaintiff asserted that he was always very handy around the home and now experiences great difficulty with everyday chores and must depend exclusively on his wife’s support. At trial, the defendants failed to present any examining physician to rebut plaintiff’s claims.

The jury found that the plaintiff sustained a significant limitation of use of a body function or system, which satisfied the threshold requirements. The jury found defendant 100% negligent and awarded plaintiff over $12,000,000, including $3,000,000 for past pain and suffering, $7,000,000 for future pain and suffering, over $300,000 for future loss of earnings, and $400,000 for medical expenses.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact The Platta Law Firm for a free legal consultation by calling 212–514–5100 (24/7), emailing swp@plattalaw.com or visiting our law firm in Financial District of Manhattan (42 Broadway, Suite 1927). You can also ask us questions using the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.plattalaw.com). We offer free consultations for all potential personal injury cases.

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