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How To Handle A Wrongful Death Claim Involving The Police

There are far too many circumstances in which police misconduct results in serious and fatal injuries to residents of upstate New York. There are many ways in which police misconduct can lead to serious harm, from intentional actions taken against people to negligent on-the-job behavior that results in the unintentional death of another person. No matter what the circumstances might be, our dedicated Rochester personal injury attorneys know how devastating it is to lose a loved one. The circumstances can be so much worse when a member of the police department is involved in or causes the death. We want to provide you with more information about how to handle a wrongful death claim involving the police.

Learn About Suing the Police in New York

You might be wondering if the police can be sued for a wrongful death. You should know that the police certainly can be liable for a wrongful death resulting from police misconduct, and in many ways these types of cases work just like any other wrongful death lawsuit. To be sure, whether you are suing the police or another party for the wrongful death of a loved one, you should know that the personal representative of the estate is the party required to file a civil lawsuit, although damages can be awarded to the deceased’s family members such as a surviving spouse or children.

There are, however, important distinctions in wrongful death cases involving the police. Unlike ordinary negligence cases in which wrongful death lawsuit may be filed, cases against the police will require additional knowledge about police misconduct claims and the steps necessary to sue a government entity. Indeed, although you might not think of the police as falling into the category of “political subdivision of the state, or any instrumentality or agency of the state” as New York law says, claims against the police do involve this type of lawsuit.

Understanding How Police Can Be Liable in Wrongful Death Cases

If you believe a police officer or a police department is responsible for the death of your loved one, it is critical to learn more about police liability and the types of cases in which police misconduct can be the cause of a serious or fatal injury. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Excessive force;
  • Negligent care for a person who is detained;
  • Careless or reckless driving; and
  • False imprisonment.

Steps to Take After a Police Misconduct Incident Causes a Loved One’s Death

Nobody should ever have to go through the devastating experience of losing a loved one because of police misconduct, and we know that it can be extremely difficult to think about logistical steps you need to take in order to file a claim later on. Yet by taking these steps, you can preserve your right to file a wrongful death claim and to protect your loved one’s rights. Police misconduct should never happen. When it does, and another person suffers severe or deadly injuries, it is essential to hold the police accountable for the harm caused by their misconduct. The following are steps to help ensure that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed:

  • Obtain as much information as possible from the police misconduct incident (from motor vehicle collisions involving police to arrests), including any photographs from the scene and recorded videos, as well as names and contact information for any witnesses;
  • Keep notes if your loved one was detained by police, including the date and time of an arrest, and any contact concerning your loved one’s health conditions during the period of detainment;
  • Gather information about your loved one’s medical conditions, such as the need for an inhaler or another medical device that was not supplied while your loved one was in police custody; and
  • Seek advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible about filing a wrongful death case for police misconduct.

Provide Timely Notice and File the Lawsuit On Time

It is absolutely critical to understand that wrongful death lawsuits against police have a slightly different timetable from other wrongful death claims. While the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is still two years from the date of death under New York law, there is a specific notice requirement.

New York has a 90-day Notice of Claim requirement. This must be filed before a wrongful death lawsuit can be commenced.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in New York

If you lost a loved one as a result of police misconduct, whether the police officer’s actions were intentional or careless, it is essential to seek advice from a Rochester police misconduct attorney as soon as possible to find out about filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP today for more information.


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