Auto Accidents Involving Police Officers
By: John Blyth
The role of a police officer is to protect the citizens of New York. In furtherance of this goal, officers oftentimes find themselves in harm’s way, especially when behind the wheel of their police car. If an officer is injured in an automobile accident on the job, the benefits provided are not nearly as extensive as one may think. Fortunately, there are legal remedies available to help properly compensate officers injured in automobile accidents while on duty.
When an employee is hurt on the job, they often are entitled to workers’ compensation. Employers pay for this insurance, which provides weekly cash benefits and medical care for workers who are injured or become ill as a direct result of their job. There is no determination of fault, and the amount that a claimant receives is not decreased by his/her carelessness, nor increased by an employer’s fault. Most counties outside of New York City offer worker’s compensation to police officers injured on the job. However, the NYPD does not make such insurance available and instead, injured officers are entitled to accident disability retirement (ADR).
According to NYPD regulations, to be eligible for ADR, a member “must be in active service and be physically or mentally incapacitated for the performance of duty as the natural and proximate result of an accident sustained in active service and not caused by the member’s own willful negligence. Some police officers are entitled to “Accidental” Disability Pension, or 3/4’s pension, if he or she is injured as a result of a “legal accident” which permanently incapacitates them from the performance of his/her full duties. Others are only entitled to 50% pension if injured during the performance of his ordinary duties.
Although the benefits injured officers receive may provide some assistance, they are often inadequate. Neither worker’s compensation nor ADR cover expenses beyond basic medical expenses and some lost wages, thus leaving injured officers struggling to pay bills and support their families. Although filing a claim under New York State’s No-Fault automobile insurance law is an option for officers working outside of NYC, often this is used only to preserve the first $50,000 of worker’s compensation benefits.
Thus it is clear that the best route for a police officer who is injured as a result of negligence of a third party in an automobile accident is to pursue a personal injury claim. An officer could be eligible to receive compensation beyond that obtained by ADR or a no-fault claim, and thus feel more comfortable about his or her post-accident financial state. The attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP, frequently advocate for police officers who are victims of accidents that take place on the job. If you have been injured in an on-duty automobile accident, call our offices at 866-LAWS-USA or 212-779-0057 to speak with an attorney about your options.