OFFICER RECEIVES $250,000 FOR SHOULDER INJURED ATTEMPTING TO PLACE DRUNK TEENAGER IN PROTECTIVE CUSTODY
Officers frequently inform me of the physical challenge presented in arresting or placing an intoxicated individual into protective custody. Not only does the intoxication contribute to irrational and unreasonable behavior in the face of authority, but the intoxication makes these individuals much more difficult to physically restrain and control, as it makes them impervious to pain. Such a situation makes the officer's job even more difficult as the officer is concerned with not letting the individual suffer an injury in their intoxicated state. Additionally, officers must be concerned that these intoxicated individuals, if injured, will once they have sobered up wrongly attribute their injuries to the use of excessive force. Such was the situation for Officer Green who was called during the early morning hours to respond to a fight in a residential neighborhood. There he found 17 year old John Daniels creating a loud disturbance. Daniels who was partially clothed was bleeding and acting out in a highly intoxicated manner. He smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and at times unintelligible. He was loud and he was unsteady on his feet. When he tried to walk away from Officer Green, he fell down. His blood alcohol level would later prove to be approximate a .26 BAC. Officer Green immediately tried to calm Daniels and simultaneously called for an ambulance. Officer Green informed Daniels he was being placed in protective custody, that he was not free to leave and that an ambulance had been called. Daniels responded to Officer Green with a few expletives, which are not fit to print, as he attempted to pull away from Officer Green. (In order to protect the privacy of the injured officer and witnesses, all names have been changed. Any resemblance to names of real persons, past or present, is merely coincidental and not intended. The injured officer agreed to have this article published in order that police officers around the Commonwealth be better educated about their legal rights to compensation when injured on duty).
Officer Green attempted to restrain Daniels with handcuffs for his safety and to protect him from further injuring himself. Officer Green got one handcuff on when Daniels began resisting and struggled to free himself. In so doing, he lost his balance and fell to the ground pulling on Officer Green as he held on to the handcuffed wrist. As Officer Green held on to Daniels handcuffed arm in order to break the force of his fall, the full weight of Daniels pulled on Officer Green's right arm, wrenching his shoulder in the process, which Officer Green described as hearing something pop in his shoulder. As a result of Daniels' resistance, he was charged with resisting arrest.
After the scene was clear, Officer Green was taken to the local emergency room. His shoulder was so severely injured, it required surgery to correct. A second surgery was performed to address the continuing pain following the first surgery. In all, Officer Green was out of work for twelve months and incurred medical expenses in excess of $60,000.00. Although Officer Green's medical expenses and injury on duty pay were covered by the Town, he lost substantial money from being unable to do road details and overtime, which he depended upon to supplement his income. During the two years during which his shoulder was treated, he endured a great amount of suffering, which not only prevented from him consistently working, but interfered with his personal life as well. The injury to his shoulder made it difficult to sleep and he was unable to attend to the household tasks for which his family had depended upon him. It wasn't until undergoing two years of medical treatment that he was cleared to resume his duties full time without restriction. Even so, Officer Green continued to complain of pain during prolonged periods of directing traffic when doing road work. His shoulder was painful and stiff when he awakened and he suffered a painful ache in his shoulder with changes in the weather. As a result of the shoulder injury, Officer Green continued to reduce the number of details he worked in comparison to his pre-injury levels. He has found it necessary to reduce his workload so that his shoulder will respond appropriately when he encounters an emergency situation.
After we were retained to represent Officer Green, we encountered difficulty with the insurance company for Daniels. We then filed a lawsuit against Daniels alleging negligent and reckless conduct which caused Officer Green's injury. Daniels subsequently testified at his deposition that he recalled no injury to Officer Green, nor did he recall resisting being placed in protective custody or being intoxicated. To no one's surprise, he also did not recall being taken by ambulance from the scene, nor the local emergency room where he was treated, before he was taken to the station and booked for resisting arrest. The case finally settled amicably at a private mediation conducted out of court between the parties.
Injured officers throughout Massachusetts should always consider seeking a free consultation with us to determine his or her rights, benefits, and the probability of making a successful claim. I am always available by telephone, email or a personal meeting. Once I evaluate the case and the officer's chances of success, the decision whether to go forward rests with the officer. If the injured officer is out of work, the decision when to return to work rests, as it should, with the officer and his or her doctor. We do not believe in, nor do we have any interest in, keeping officers out injured any longer than necessary to heal from their injuries. As it is, many of our injured officers never miss a day of work and are still able to receive substantial compensation for their injuries which continue to nag at them during long hours spent behind the wheel of a cruiser and/or standing on a road job.
As with all claims involving an officer's injury on duty, there are no guarantees. Many police injury cases involve sophisticated legal issues, problems of proof, technical insurance policy coverage disputes, and issues that arise under Massachusetts General Laws c. 41, §100 and §111F, Chapter 152, State Police Article 8 and/or other related laws.
When we work on these cases, we work on a contingent fee basis. That means the injured officer pays nothing up front and while the case is pending. He or she only need pay for legal services and expenses at the end of the case, if we successfully collect money on the claim. We typically will receive one-third of the money collected. In the off-chance we are unable to collect money for the injured officer, the officer owes nothing for our legal services.