NEWARK COP DRIVING POLICE CRUISER CAN’T AVOID LIABILITY FOR HITTING BOY ON BICYCLE. NJ ACCIDENT ATTORNEY OBTAINS $2.4 MILLION JURY VERDICT.
NJ accident attorney case study: Under New Jersey law, a public official is not responsible for an accident “if he acts in good faith in the execution or enforcement of any law.” A Newark, New Jersey police officer recently tried to use this law. He wanted to avoid liability for driving into a boy on a bike.
On June 29, 2010, Newark police officer Fabian Caicedo arrested a man for a minor offense. The officer placed the suspect in an unmarked police cruiser. The officer then proceeded to drive the prisoner to the police station.
At the same time, a boy named Danny Caicedo (no apparent relation to the officer) was riding his bicycle on Broadway, in Newark. It so happens that Danny was one block from the police station.
You probably can guess what happened next. The officer’s car struck Danny. The officer later admitted that he was traveling over the speed limit. It was undisputed that there was no emergency taking place.
Danny was severely injured. He was hospitalized for four days. He remained on bed rest for five months. While on bed rest, he needed assistance with all of his bodily functions. Danny now suffers from a permanent limp. He also has permanent scars and permanent stiffness. He may be predisposed to lower back pain. He also is at risk for premature arthritis.
The officer’s lawyer argued to the trial judge that, even if the officer was careless, he could not be held responsible. The New Jersey law which states that an official is not responsible when acting in good faith while enforcing the law would apply.
However, Danny’s NJ accident attorney argued that this law only applies if the officer is responding to an emergency. The law only protects an officer who has to make a split-second decision in a crisis.
There was no prior New Jersey Court decision that had similar facts. The trial judge had to interpret the law. The judge decided that Danny’s NJ accident attorney was correct. The law does not protect a police officer who injures someone by careless driving, unless the officer was in the middle of a real emergency.
A panel of appellate judges affirmed the trial judge’s decision on March 17, 2015. It looks like Danny will receive the well-deserved compensation obtained by his NJ accident attorney.
I agree with this result.
The appeals court ruling can be read here.
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