November 30, 2012

Are Changes Coming to the Way the NYPD Investigates Auto Accidents?
-- Recent proposals by city lawmakers would revamp the way in which the New York Police Department investigates auto accidents. --

    November 30, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Recent proposals by city lawmakers (in conjunction with Transportation Alternatives, a well-known pedestrian, bicyclist and public transit advocacy organization) would revamp the way in which the New York Police Department investigates auto accidents.

The proposed legislation, the Crash Investigation Reform Act (CIRA), would begin with an assessment of what current NYPD accident investigation policies are, after which a determination would be made regarding what (if any) changes need to be made to better meet the needs of the city's roughly 8,200,000 residents.

The proposal was introduced by a number of New York City Council members from around the five boroughs, including representatives from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. It comes in response to their own investigation of police traffic control and accident review policies and some high-profile cases that seems to illustrate a disconnect between the approach of the NYPD and accident victims.

How do investigations work now?

Currently, the NYPD only investigates auto accidents where there is a fatality or someone is likely to die because of serious injuries. There are an average of nearly 80,000 car crashes in New York City annually, a rate of about nine accidents an hour, 365 days a year, and usually less than 300 accident fatalities, so that leaves a huge number of accidents that are either totally uninvestigated or do not receive the attention they deserve.

That is where CIRA would come in, though, to ensure that policies are consistent between precincts and that the NYPD as a whole has a clear-cut approach to investigating injury-causing accidents.

How would CIRA change the investigative approach?

In the words of Councilman Brad Lander, one of the council members introducing the proposal, CIRA would "set up a comprehensive review of NYPD policies regarding traffic crash investigations and get us on the road to safer streets." It would do this by ensuring that the NYPD, pursuant to current state law, actively investigates all injury-causing crashes, not just those where fatalities are anticipated.

Another goal of CIRA is that the NYPD as a whole and individual precincts dedicate resources exclusively to car crash investigation.

The waiting game...

For now, CIRA is a proposal and nothing more. There hasn't yet been a comprehensive assessment of NYPD policies and attitudes toward accident investigation, so no change can be measured now. For now, a tragically high number of injured, innocent victims are struggling to hold at-fault parties responsible because of a lack of accident scene investigation by the police. A skilled personal injury attorney can make the process of establishing liability easier, but an increased police presence would both send a message to drivers that they will face legal consequences for accident-causing traffic violations (like speeding, texting behind the wheel, reckless driving or driving while intoxicated) and ensure that victims receive compensation for the damages caused by an auto accident.

Article provided by Hacker Murphy LLP
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