A Westchester County Cop was injured in the line of duty during a car chase after a fellow officer tried to pull over a driver who was operating a vehicle with a temporary license plate hidden under a dark tinted cover and having heavily tinted windows. In our view, the injured officer certainly has claims for his line of duty injuries under both New York’s General Municipal Law § 205-e and New York’s General Obligations Law § 11-106 and has a right to sue.
The chase started around 1909 hours on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, when a first officer tried to pull over the vehicle, a Nissan Maxima, on the Hutchinson River Parkway in New Rochelle. The vehicle, operated by a 20-year old woman, fled the car stop traveling northbound on the Hutch. Other officers joined in the chase, including the New York State Police and the Westchester County PD’s aviation unit. With PD vehicles following, the Nissan Maxima headed onto Route I-684 northbound where its escape was thwarted by heavy traffic. As the County PD units and State Police closed in, the driver tried to force one marked County PD cruiser off the road. The officer in that car avoided a crash by driving onto the left shoulder of the roadway. As the Nissan Maxima moved from the center lane into the right lane, it struck another County PD cruiser. The Nissan Maxima stopped when it crashed into a snowbank in Lewisboro. Police were surprised to find an 8-month old infant in the back seat of the car. The woman was taken into custody by County PD. Following evaluation by Northern Westchester Hospital Center, the child was released to its family, and child Protective Services was notified. It is unknown why the woman driver fled the police car stop.
The County PD officer operating the cruiser that was struck by the Nissan Maxima sustained injuries.
The driver of the Nissan Maxima, a Hartford, Connecticut resident, was charged with the crimes of Assault 2d Degree; Unlawful Fleeing a Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle; Reckless Endangerment; and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
We don’t know the extent of the injuries to the County PD officer who was injured in the line of duty, and we hope he fully recovers. If he’s so inclined, however, he certainly has a viable civil claim under New York’s General Municipal Law 205-e which gives all police officers in New York the right to sue for line of duty injuries where a violation of a statute, ordinance, code, rule, or regulation causes directly or indirectly the officer’s injuries. Under this statute, the violation of the law by the driver only needs to “indirectly” cause the officer’s injuries. Here, that seems like a foregone conclusion. In fact, under GML 205-e, a lesser causal connection then that required for common law negligence claims is all that is needed for an officer to succeed on his/her claim. Also, New York’s General Obligations Law § 11-106, permits officers the right to sue members of the public for general negligence claims if no law, rule, or regulation per se is violated when the officer is injured in the line of duty, i.e., while engaged in the “lawful discharge of his [or her] official duties.”
If the injured County PD officer decides to bring suit, we hope that the Nissan Maxima driver’s automobile insurance will step up or else be forced by the court to cover the officer’s claims for injuries.
Booby O’Hare is a former New York City EMT and an NYPD Sergeant who was injured off-duty after eight years on the job. He went on to pursue a career as a lawyer. He and his team are experienced New York line of duty injury attorneys representing injured New York police officers and other first responders, including volunteer EMTs and Paramedics. You may have a right to sue for your line of duty injuries. Call us to discuss your legal rights at 914.725.3632 or 212.425.1401, ext. 3009, or contact us online.