City Council Scolds NYPD’s Response to Bicycle Accidents
A few high profile cases over the past year, especially that of cyclist Mathieu Lefevre, have brought significant attention to the NYPD’s treatment of bicycle and pedestrian accidents. So much so that the City Council held a meeting on the department’s lackadaisical attitude towards such accidents and how they are investigated.
According to the Village Voice, much of the frustration is due to the police department’s reluctance to charge drivers criminally after being involved in such accidents. Though they may receive a ticket for failing to signal or running a red light, it’s rare that they face charges of reckless endangerment or assault with a vehicle, even after the accident victim has suffered extensive injuries or even died.
The department assured the council that everything is being handled according to protocol, citing a 33% decrease in traffic fatalities overall in the past ten years.
“The Police Department isn’t doing active investigating when people are seriously hurt,” said councilmember Daniel Garodnic, pointing out that, “unless they’re likely to die, there’s no follow-up from the Police Department.”
Garodnic is correct in that the department doesn’t send out an Accident Investigation Team unless there are life-threatening injuries in the bicycle accident. Sometimes, even when the cyclist is killed, the investigation doesn’t seem to be taken as seriously as when in an auto accident.
Mathieu Lefevre was killed by a truck last year in a bicycle accident, when that truck failed to signal. He was dragged to his death and the police failed to bring a working camera to the investigation. There were no photos of the scene, none to be used in a criminal or civil case.
There are numerous cases of people who were significantly injured in bicycle accidents but not treated to much more than an EMT referral from police.
A relatively new law strengthened penalties against drivers who injure bicyclists and pedestrians. The problem, however, is that the NYPD forbids patrol officers from using it.
Instead, injured cyclists are left to roll the dice, hoping they get an officer who prides themselves on thorough investigations.
Accident investigations aren’t only important for potential criminal cases, but for accident claims as well. When you are injured in a bicycle accident, you will want to hold someone accountable and establishing who is at fault is much easier when the police do a thorough investigation.
Even when the police fall short of their duties, you can have a successful claim. Working with experienced accident attorneys can certainly improve your chances of success. If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident, contact us today. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all sorts of car accident and injury cases and are interested in helping you with yours.