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$2.5 Million Dollar Judgment Affirmed on Appeal in Car Accident Case in Which New York Police Officer Was Seriously Injured

Usually, when someone is hurt at work, they are limited to the benefits available to them under the applicable workers’ compensation laws. Occasionally, however, the facts are such that a separate case, such as a Syracuse automobile accident lawsuit, might be possible, as well.

For example, if someone is hurt in a car accident while on the job, the injured individual might be able to seek compensation from a negligent motorist who caused the crash. It should be noted that the injured person might have to repay some of the money that he or she received in workers’ compensation benefits.

Facts of the Case

In a case appealed from the Supreme Court of Kings County, the plaintiff was a police officer who was involved in a traffic accident which he alleged was caused by the defendant motorist. At the time of the crash, the plaintiff was responding to another officer’s request for assistance in what the plaintiff believed was an emergency situation. The plaintiff’s lights, sirens, and rumbler were activated at the time of the collision, which occurred when the defendant failed to pull over as the plaintiff’s cruiser approached as required under the law and, instead, turned left and drove directly into the police vehicle.

The case proceeded to two non-jury trials, the first on the issue of liability and the second on the issue of damages. The trial court found the defendant liable for the accident insomuch as she had failed to give way to an emergency vehicle and had attempted to turn left across traffic when it was not safe to do so. In the second proceeding, the court awarded the plaintiff $1,500,000 for future lost earnings and benefits, $400,000 for past pain and suffering, and $600,000 for future pain and suffering. The defendant appealed, and the plaintiff filed a cross-appeal as to the amount of damages awarded to him.

Holding of the Reviewing Court

The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the orders of the lower tribunal. As to the plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint to add a cause of action under General Municipal Law ยง 205e, the lower court properly granted the motion; in the reviewing court’s opinion, there was no prejudice or surprise to the defendant, nor was the amendment patently devoid of merit. On the issue of whether the defendant had waived her right to a jury trial, the appellate tribunal agreed with the lower court that the defendant had waived this right by failing to make a timely request following the plaintiff’s note of issue, which had not requested a trial by jury.

In agreeing with the lower court’s judgments as to liability and damages, the appellate tribunal opined that the evidence showed that the plaintiff was engaged in an emergency operation such that he was permitted to disregard certain traffic regulations (such as the crossing of the yellow line) so long as he did not do so with reckless disregard. Additionally, the court found that there was sufficient evidence to establish that the defendant had violated multiple laws in not yielding to the plaintiff’s emergency vehicle. The court also agreed with the lower tribunal on the issue of damages, holding that the amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff did not “deviate materially” from what would be considered a reasonable amount of compensation under the circumstances and thus, there was no basis upon which to disturb the lower court’s ruling on that issue.

Talk to a Syracuse Accident and Injury Lawyer

Pursuing fair monetary compensation following a Syracuse car accident can be a lengthy and difficult process. It pays to have an experienced legal advocate by your side during each and every step of the investigation, litigation, and trial of such a matter. For a free consultation to learn more about how we can be of help in your case, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP at 833-247-8427 or contact us through this website. We do not expect an attorney fee to be paid up front and, instead, collect our fee when your case is concluded by settlement or trial, so there is no reason to delay speaking to counsel about your case.

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