News headlines have been touching on an interesting topic recently. Police officers are human beings and prone to making mistakes on occasion, but what are the consequences when they harm others or damage personal property? The answer is causing some citizens to raise their voices in protest against accidents caused by police.
A story out of Orlando is renewing interest in this topic. According to the Orlando Sentinel, there are approximately 20 police-caused accidents in Florida, including those in and around St. Petersburg. Annually, those crashes can kill upwards of two dozen people and leave thousands of others injured. That is not to mention the vast amount of damage done to personal property. Yet, when asked if police are ticketed for such accidents, the answer provided is generally no, even when the police involved may have blatantly ignored the rules of the road.
As compared to the 64 percent of at-fault drivers who are ticketed, the meager eleven percent of at-fault cops is upsetting.
This certainly isn’t the first time that this topic has arisen. Two years ago, in Houston, KHOU reported on a Houston cop who ran a red light, in a chase, and slammed into the side of an SUV. The driver of the vehicle didn’t have time to react, as the cop was traveling at approximately 100 miles per hour. She suffered broken ribs, face lacerations, and other such injuries, but the police officer was not ticketed. This prompted an investigation into Houston police accidents caused by police statistics. It was found that, despite the 155 major accidents that involved at-fault police officers ignoring traffic law, zero tickets were issued.
Certainly those statistics are disturbing, but the bigger question is, how often do the families involved receive compensation for their losses?
The Orlando Sentinel pointed to one of the more serious examples of accidents like this, which involved teenager, Erskin Bell, Jr. The young man was waiting at a red light when a police officer hit his vehicle from behind at 104 miles per hour. He was left paralyzed. He can do nothing on his own, has little control over his body at all, and can do little more than smile when friends visit.
In this instance, the police officer was ticketed and did resign from his position, but it was not until the family sought out a personal injury attorney and started the lawsuit filing process that the police department offered any financial assistance. A settlement was finally made for $2,000,000. However, this young man was studying to be an air traffic controller. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals earn, on average, $121,280 annually. Assuming Bell joined the workforce at age 23 and worked until the age of 63, he could have earned more than $5,000,000 dollars during his career. Instead, he was robbed of that opportunity and, very likely, the entire settlement will be used to provide his round-the-clock care.
When involved in a car accident in Saint Petersburg, even if the other party is a police officer, it is wise to consult a personal injury attorney. This is the best way to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve and that justice is best served.