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Stolen Motor Vehicle Injuries

Massachusetts Police Injury Attorneys
Legal Article - Stolen Motor Vehicle Injuries


Police officers throughout Massachusetts are frequently injured in the pursuit of stolen motor vehicles. In the past twenty years, I have represented many of these officers and collected tens and, at times, hundreds of thousands of dollars in valuable compensation for them. I suspect that officers injured during stolen motor vehicle pursuits conclude there is no prospect of making a claim, since they expect that the stolen motor vehicle’s insurance company will deny coverage. Unfortunately, these officers are unaware of the other options available which can bring valuable compensation to the injured officer for their lost overtime and detail pay, as well as the serious injuries and scarring which often result in these accidents. With recent statistics revealing as many as 25,000 annual motor vehicle thefts in Massachusetts, the risk to police officers of being involved in such pursuits is always there.

A Collision With The Stolen Motor Vehicle Is Not Required

Officers injured while pursuing stolen motor vehicles are most often injured while they are operating a police cruiser or motorcycle. These injuries can occur when the cruiser spins out on a curve, when the cruiser collides with the stolen motor vehicle, or even when two cruisers in pursuit of the same stolen motor vehicle collide during that pursuit. We have handled cases when the officer, during the pursuit, was forced to veer off into other moving vehicles, other cruisers or parked cars. We have even handled cases where two cruisers were forced to strike each other head on in the pursuit of the stolen motor vehicle. There is also a scenario sometimes referred to as “ pop a cop”, where the operator of the stolen motor vehicle slams on the brakes causing the cruiser to rear end the stolen motor vehicle. This can sometimes cause the airbag to deploy, disabling the cruiser and allowing the operator of the stolen motor vehicle to get away.

These accidents frequently result in injuries to the neck, back, shoulder and or knees which can be long-lasting. These new injuries at times aggravate pre-existing conditions. In addition to typical injury on duty benefits paid by the municipality, we are frequently able to pursue compensation for these injured officers, despite the fact that the insurance company, which insured the stolen motor vehicle, declined coverage as the use of the vehicle was not authorized by the owner.

Claims May Be Made Now For Accidents That Happened Six Years Ago

It is important for officers to contact us whenever there is a stolen motor vehicle pursuit resulting in injury to the officer. We are frequently able to find other means available to compensate that officer for those injuries. On many of these cases we are able to go back as many as six years and reopen old cases. One legal option involves valuable insurance coverage with which police officers are unfamiliar. This involves so-called uninsured motorist protection or “Uninsured Coverage” which appears on part 3 on Massachusetts motor vehicle policies. It is important that officers reading this article, and those they communicate with, go home and check the automobile insurance policies in their families to see what amount of coverage that is carried under part 3 for Uninsured Coverage.

Check Your Own Automobile Insurance Policies Now

All Massachusetts automobile insurance policies provide insurance coverage called Uninsured Coverage to protect you for injuries caused by vehicles with no insurance. This valuable coverage also protects you, most members of your household and, in some cases, passengers in your vehicle. Uninsured Coverage is mandatory coverage in Massachusetts which means all vehicles insured in Massachusetts must include this coverage. All insured Massachusetts passenger vehicles carry at least the minimum coverage of $20,000 per person. The mistake made by almost every police officer we meet is they fail to purchase higher limits. There are so many serious accidents, where the value of the losses far exceeds $20,000, so you should always insure yourself for much higher limits. The typical police officer we meet 1) has no idea they even have Uninsured Coverage, 2) almost always has the minimum $20,000 of coverage, and 3) is shocked at how Uninsured Coverage may protect them for injuries in so many situations which don’t involve their own vehicles.

The Uninsured Coverage even protects when you or a household member are hurt as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or a passenger in someone else’s vehicle. It may apply whenever an accident is caused by a vehicle with no insurance. Uninsured vehicles are found when insurance policies are cancelled for non-payment, when out of state cars are not required to carry insurance, and of course, when cars are stolen or used without authority. “Hit and run” vehicles are also considered uninsured, even if you are cutoff, and there is no contact or “hit” with the fleeing, unknown vehicle.

To protect yourself, purchase as much Uninsured Coverage as you can afford on your household vehicles. Your agent will explain how to do this. Also, ask your insurance agent about adding or increasing Underinsured Coverage limits as well, which is optional coverage found under part 12 of personal automobile insurance policies in Massachusetts.

An injured officer should always consider seeking a free consultation to determine his or her rights, the 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 then rests with the officer. The decision when to return to work rests, as it should, with the officer and his or her doctor.

As with all claims for an officer's injuries-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.

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 at the end of the case and expenses 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.

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