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Officer Collects After Prior Attorneys Gave Up


During my years of representing injured police officers, I have found many instances of officers with valuable and viable claims who have been told by other attorneys that their cases were not viable claims. This often is the case with attorneys who do not have an in-depth knowledge of tort law, upon which claims made against those causing injuries to officers is based and of the various insurance laws, which can be taken advantage of in pursuing claims for officers injured on duty. In many of the cases that we handle for injured police officers, we utilize novel strategies and infrequently used legal theories. Cases which are not routine rear-end accidents and other straightforward liability cases often require intensive work in order to bring a resolution and this may put off some attorneys, who do not have this experience. Even with the routine rear-end accident there is an art to maximizing an injured officer’s recovery and minimizing any monies which might be owed to the employing municipality under the statutory lien.

The message that officers across Massachusetts should get from this article is that you should never take a “no” from an attorney as the final word of whether or not you have a case. Just as patients will often seek a second opinion on a medical evaluation, officers who have potential claims connected to their injuries on duty, should always seek a second opinion, and my office will always be available to give that.

In this particular case, Officer Gold¹was injured when he was struck by an unmarked police vehicle, which was pursuing a stolen motor vehicle, and this accident resulted in injuries to his leg and ribs. Officer Gold’s first attorney had worked on this case for more than two years and then finally gave up and returned the file to Officer Gold. The attorney informed him that he had done the best he could, but that the insurance company had denied the claim and he could not see any way to make a successful claim for the injured officer. Officer Gold then approached another attorney, who told him, likewise, that he had no case.

After receiving the file in our office, I discovered that both prior attorneys had overlooked a cause of action which would constitute a successful strategy on this case. By focusing on the operator of the stolen motor vehicle, we were able to present a successful claim for Officer Gold to the insurance company(ies). That claim recently settled for $100,000 which was the limit of insurance available.

Officer Gold was working his normal area in his cruiser on the day of the accident. He was parked at an intersection looking for traffic signal violations when he heard the broadcast that there was a motor vehicle stolen from another town in the vicinity. Subsequently, Officer Tree radioed ahead to Officer Gold that the stolen motor vehicle was headed for the intersection where Officer Gold was positioned. Officer Tree began a pursuit of the stolen motor vehicle in his unmarked car. Just as the stolen motor vehicle was approaching the intersection from Officer Gold’s rear, Officer Gold pulled out from along the curb, cutting off the path of the stolen motor vehicle, and causing it to come to an abrupt stop. At that time, the operator of the stolen motor vehicle fled on foot with Officer Gold exiting his cruiser and giving chase. At the same time that the Defendant fled the stolen motor vehicle, Officer Tree, who had been in pursuit in an unmarked vehicle, came upon the scene and tried to avoid colliding with the stolen car by hitting his brakes, but he hit a patch of black ice and ended up skidding into Officer Gold, who was then crossing his path in foot pursuit of the defendant. Unable to stop, Officer Tree collided with Officer Gold, causing a serious injury to Officer Gold. Officer Gold underwent surgery, spent six days in the hospital, was bedridden for two months, and was out of work for a year. As you can imagine, his financial loss of being unable to work overtime and details was substantial, as was the pain and suffering which he endured. I am glad to report that Officer Gold was eventually able to return to work and resume his career. The Defendant, who fled on foot, was later spotted by other police officers in the neighborhood who gave chase and apprehended him.

Unfortunately for Officer Gold, his prior attorney had focused on bringing a claim against Officer Tree. This strategy proved to be both unsuccessful and unpopular. By starting our review of the case back at square one and focusing on the negligent conduct of the operator of the stolen vehicle, we were able to bring a successful claim for Officer Gold and resolve his claim for the maximum policy limit of $100,000 within a year of being hired. In addition, Officer Gold received his full statutory injured on duty benefits for the time he was out of work.

Officer Gold’s experience is typical of police officers who are injured across the state. Many injured officers are advised that there is no claim, when, in fact, that attorney may just be unaware of the correct insurance and legal strategies to pursue in order to make a successful claim for an injured police officer.

Many police injury cases involve sophisticated legal issues, problems of proof, technical insurance policy coverage disputes, and issues that arise under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 41, Section 100 and Section 111F and or related statutes. I handle these cases on a contingent-fee basis. If I successfully collect money on the claim, the injured officer need only pay for legal services, where the fee is typically one-third of the money collected, plus out-of-pocket expenses, if any. If I 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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