Yonkers and its police department have been sued for a car crash that resulted in the deaths of four teenagers in 2020. The teens were 18-years-old and had graduated from high school the prior spring. The families of the teenagers blame the police for the crash, arguing that they mishandled the pursuit of a man who attempted to evade them on Riverdale Avenue when they tried to pull him over for erratic driving. The man also died in the crash.
The police department’s public information officer said that the officers chose to disengage and didn’t pursue precise to avoid a crash; they did not view the pursuit as a high speed chase. The police followed around 15 seconds behind the fleeing driver’s sedan; the police car was not in emergency mode.
The mother of one of the teens who died argued that the police should have used warning equipment like sirens, horns and lights and should have given proper instruction to its officers to properly follow the vehicle. One of the lawsuits that has been filed alleges that the police department owed a duty to direct officers and personnel in appropriate precautions for chasing, following, or apprehending a vehicle. Another lawsuit alleges that the actions of the police department in this situation increased risks to the public.
Various factors affect whether an officer is directed to keep chasing a particular car. These factors include how criminal the actions are, the time of day, the weather, the officer’s familiarity with the area, and the density of the population. However, pursuits are only appropriate when absolutely necessary; erratic driving may not warrant a high speed chase. Moreover, chases must be discontinued if the danger to the public outweighs the benefits of arresting a fleeing driver. Officers may be held accountable for damages in police chases when they don’t stop pursuing a suspect, even though they were instructed to do so, or when they accidentally injure or kill a pedestrian. A number of other parties may be accountable for damages arising out of a police chase, as well. In this case, the police said that the driver who they were chasing had a history of reckless driving and had also faced charges over a 17-year period for weapons and drug charges. No comment on the litigation was given by a City Hall spokesperson.
Special rules must be followed when a wrongful death action in New York targets a public authority or public benefit corporation. It is crucial to retain counsel that understands the particular procedures that must be followed. It is important with suits against a law enforcement agency, for instance, to follow the New York General Municipal Law; among other things, our attorneys must file a notice of claim within 90 days of the occurrence on which your claim is based. Unlike a criminal action, a civil wrongful death action is brought for the survivors of an estate and are awarded to compensate for economic and pecuniary losses arising out of the death.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed as the result of a police chase in White Plains or surrounding areas, you may be worried about whether you have recourse under the law. You should call our founder, Mark Siesel, an experienced car accident lawyer, immediately. Due to original experience representing defendants until the mid-1990s and representing injured victims of accidents for the last 25 years, he understands how defendants think and defend lawsuits. This gives him a significant advantage over most attorneys. He represents accident victims and their families in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, along with Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Sullivan, Rockland, Orange, and Ulster Counties. Call him at (914) 428-7386 or complete this online form.