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Chasing Suspect


Maybe the message is finally getting through: you don’t have to suffer financially and physically when injured on the job just because you are a police officer.
Officer Rose¹was injured during a foot pursuit. He tore ligaments in his knee, missed almost 10 months of work, and eventually had surgery. He could have done nothing, taking the injury and the resulting financial hit he and his family suffered as another tough break he was powerless to control. Instead, having read past articles about police injured on the job and their rights to bring claims, he did something. He called me to find out if anything could be done even though the person who caused his injuries never touched him, it was he who stumbled during the chase, and the suspect had no assets or income. He feared his situation was hopeless, but he was wrong. The call was worth it. Two and a half years later, I collected $120,000 of justice for him.

Almost every officer who works the street during his career has been injured in a foot pursuit. Some of these injuries can be serious enough to require surgery, result in long periods missed from work, and even end careers. Others result in bothersome conditions that never go away and are constantly aggravated at work. I aggressively pursue these cases, and when the right circumstances are in place, I collect valuable compensation for officers injured during foot pursuits.
Officer Rose fell and hurt his knee while running after the suspect of a stolen motor vehicle report. He would be out of work for almost 10 months, undergo surgery to repair the damaged ligaments and would lose almost $7,000 in overtime and detail pay that Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 41, Section 111 injury-on-duty pay does not cover.

Unlike a professional athlete who suffers such injuries on a fairly frequent basis, Officer Rose was unable to sit back during his post-surgery rehabilitation, relax and shrug off the injury as part of the job. And when he returned to work out of financial need and his knee ached as he operated his cruiser during an eight-hour shift, he could not shrug it off knowing he’d soon have four months vacation during the off-season while he decided how to spend his seven-figure salary. He couldn’t shrug it off, because like all police officers, Officer Rose is not paid like a professional athlete.

Like most officers, Officer Rose goes home every couple of weeks wondering whether, after he’s paid the mortgage, credit card bills, household bills and car payments, he’ll have enough money left over to buy a weed whacker to enjoy in his time off on hot summer days after he’s finished cleaning out the garage!
With the money Officer Rose was losing in overtime and detail pay, he couldn’t relax quietly at home. Officer Rose was justifiably upset at his out-of-work predicament. So he retained me, sought justice and collected $120,000 for his pain and suffering, his rehabilitation after surgery and his lost overtime and detail pay.

The Case is Familiar
Officer Rose’s is a scenario that happens all too often. The suspect is spotted, the officer orders him to stop, the suspect flees and the officer gives chase on foot. While in pursuit, the officer falls and is injured before reaching the suspect, who, hopefully, is secured by backup officers. Sometime it is a fall on uneven ground in the woods, a misstep while running down a set of stairs, a fall from atop a fence or a trip over debris in a dark alley. To the suspect, it is often a game. They think they’ll either get away or get an additional charge of resisting arrest for fleeing, which is of little consequence when added to the principal charges. To the suspect with a short record it might mean just another CWOF agreed to by the district attorney and his court-appointed attorney. All the while, the injured officer stands there on crutches bewildered, wondering where his suffering and injury fits in. To the injured officer, a serious injury sustained during the chase can lead to financial hardship and even financial ruin, not to mention substantial pain and suffering, surgery and rehabilitation.

The Facts
Officer Rose’s case involved a teenage minor who stole a car. The minor had a long history of criminal acts and had previously stolen another car. In response to the car theft reported, the police put out a search for the suspect and the vehicle. Officer Rose located the vehicle and the minor nearby. He pursued the minor on foot into a crowded building. The minor saw the officer, the officer ordered him to stop and the minor resisted his arrest (later charged pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 268, Section 32B for Resisting Arrest) by running recklessly through a crowd in an effort to lose Officer Rose. All along the chase the minor refused to stop. As Officer Rose exited the crowed, he came unexpectedly upon a small set of stairs. During his attempt to negotiate the stairs at full stride, Officer Rose badly injured his right knee. The felon never should have fled and Officer Rose shouldn’t have had to give chase.

The defendants and insurance company argued this was a minor criminal incident and that it was wrong for Officer Rose to give chase, wrongfully taking an episode out of “Starsky and Hutch.” Besides the fact that department policy requires the apprehension of persons wanted for motor vehicle theft and that the crowd he ran through was in danger of injury, we reminded them this was a felony, a second offense, and a violation of the defendant’s probation. And, if allowed to escape, there was little reason to count on him to show up in court in response to a summons. Further, the public wouldn’t think twice about suing the department if the suspect caused an injury during or after his flight when such an incident could have been prevented by his pursuit and arrest.

Back on the Job
Officer Rose suffered torn ligaments in his knee. After several painful needle aspirations, the injured officer underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the damaged ligaments. Although he has since fully recovered and returned to work, Officer Rose still has some pain when sitting in the cruiser for long periods, standing for long periods on work details, and climbing stairs. Although standing on construction-type details continues to cause him pain, he cannot afford to turn down the work and lose out on this substantial portion of his income.

Two and half years after his injury, Officer Rose was back on the job, performing his usual activities and working his usual hours. Officer Rose then settled his case for $120,000, which properly compensated him for having to miss almost 10 months of work, having to undergo surgery on his knee and missing out on $7,000 in overtime and detail pay.

Don’t Miss Out
All injury claims made by injured officers are valuable. At a minimum there is a valuable claim to be made for the pain and suffering that may last weeks, months and at times years. In some cases, valuable compensation is available for scarring, lost overtime and detail pay when the officer had to leave work for some period of time, or pass up overtime and details until the injury improves.

For many officers who return quickly to work it takes months and sometimes years for the pain to completely resolve. Injured backs, necks and knees are often aggravated by long hours of sitting in the cruiser or standing on details, work that prolongs the time it takes to fully recover. Many officers never fully recover from their injuries.

An injured officer should always seek a free consultation with an experienced attorney to determine the benefits and probability of success on making a claim. 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 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 and or related statutes.

We work on a contingent fee basis. That means the injured officer need only pay for legal services if we successfully collect money on the claim. We typically will receive one-third of the money collected. If we fail to collect money for the injured officer, the officer will owe nothing for legal services, except in some cases, for out-of-pocket expenses.

¹ The officer’s name has been changed to protect his privacy. He has consented to having the facts of his case written about to help educate other officers about their rights. The name of the Defendant has also been changed. The similarity between the officer’s and or the defendant’s names with real persons living or deceased is merely coincidental and not intended. 


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