New York City Police Officers risk their health and their lives every day as they tirelessly work to protect others. The job comes with many rewards, but it also comes with a higher than average level of risk when compared with most other jobs. Risks officers of the New York City Police Department routinely face include dealing with violent criminals, intervening in domestic disputes, engaging in high-speed chases, or any given number of other scenarios.
These heroic men and women entered this job knowing the numerous hazardous situations they must bravely face on a daily basis. However, just because working in law enforcement comes with risks, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a reasonable expectation of safety.
The attorneys at the law office of Raphaelson & Levine are grateful to New York City’s courageous police officers for the hard work they do every day to protect innocent citizens while holding those breaking the law accountable for their actions. While New York’s Finest are busy with their commitment to upholding the law, our attorneys are here to protect their rights.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists police officers as having a higher risk of work-related injury or death than most other occupations. According to NYC statistics, in 2019 4,206 members of the NYPD suffered personal injury while on the job. Many of these injuries occurred due to occupational hazards.
The following causes of injuries are examples of some of the ways police members can be hurt on the job.
One of the most primary causes of police officer injury is violence by persons or animals. These incidents lead to both non-fatal and fatal injuries. In 2014, BLS reported this type of injury accounts for 56% of fatal occupational injuries in this field.
New York’s uniformed officers routinely respond to calls which can result in violence being committed by another person against them, or they are subjected to dog bites. Dangerous situations NYC’s officers frequently encounter include gunshots, stabbings, physical assault, blood infection/HIV, and accidents occurring during a police pursuit.
Officers understand they face the dangers associated with violence, but this doesn’t mean these types of personal injuries are acceptable, especially when another person was responsible for causing a serious injury or a wrongful death due to negligence or inappropriate behaviors.
In their everyday course of work, police officers are subjected to different types of slips, trips, and falls. Officers are routinely required to enter homes, buildings, parking lots, and other places in response to calls. In doing so, they never know when they might encounter spilled liquids, ice, broken steps, or other hazards they might encounter during a situation.
As a result, officers can suffer injury to the back, neck, head, brain, spinal cord, and shoulders. They can also sustain injuries to their joints and bones in the knees, legs, or ankles. Any of these injuries can be very painful and cause long-term suffering. In the case of back, neck, spinal cord, or head injuries, their quality of life could be diminished because these injuries can seriously impact their ability to work and live as they previously did before they were hurt.
Sadly, thousands of police officers across the U.S. are injured or killed by motor vehicle accidents every year. Statistics show police are twice as likely to be injured in a motor vehicle accident than the average worker. In New York City, accidents regarding motor vehicles are also unfortunately common.
Common ways law enforcement officers are involved in crashes include when their cars are struck by other cars or trucks, while in pursuit of people breaking the law, or being run down when they are on foot or bicycle. Any of which can lead to serious injury.
Police officers are often required to work long shifts at odd hours and carry heavy equipment. This can lead to strains and sprains to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. While usually not fatal, overexertion injuries could lead to other problems or put themselves and their partners at risk.
Historically, the City of New York has maintained the stance that police (and firefighters) assume any risks associated with their jobs, thus making them ineligible to sue for injuries, even if their injury was caused by another person’s recklessness or negligence while they were on-duty. This has created legal obstacles for those NYC law enforcement members to pursue any recourse when they were hurt in the line of duty. If you have suffered an injury in the line of duty, you may have a right to recovery under two laws: General Obligations Law §11-106 and General Municipal Law § 205-e.
This law falls under the category of general common law negligence. It allows police and firefighters the right to sue third parties who have caused them to be injured. What it doesn’t allow is for them to bring court action against their employers, their colleagues, or the municipality.
In 1935, New York City passed General Municipal Law § 205-a which gave firefighters protection, and police officers were generally put under this law’s protection. However, it also left some ambiguity. In 1989, the City of New York passed General Municipal Law § 205-e which gave police the same protective rights as the firefighters. Still, these rights do have some limitations in their ability to pursue compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering. This law provides officers with wider relief when they are injured while in the line of duty.
Applying the law to personal injury cases involving police officers who were injured during the course of duty is complicated. These special protections give law enforcement officers the right to make a claim against the city where their accident directly or indirectly was caused as a result of a statutory violation regardless of whether the statutory violation is a city violation. These types of claims do require proof a statute was violated and if so, a claim can be made against the city and/or a third party.
The attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine are well versed in the City of New York’s laws and can evaluate to see how they can be applied in personal injury cases involving incidents occurring during the course of work.
The members of the NYPD are not only heroes protecting the public, but they are doing it during a time that presents increased risks to themselves. The coronavirus pandemic was unprecedented, but many essential workers in New York City bore the brunt of the risk. In addition to their routine duties, NYPD’s finest were asked to help enforce state and city mandates enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus, putting them on the front line. By early April 2020, one of every six officers were either sick or in quarantine due to coronavirus exposure. A week later, 19.3% of NYPD’s uniformed members were out sick with 1,935 officers testing positive for COVID-19.
New York’s brave men and women in blue faced COVID-19 exposure every day through their day-to-day duties and the extra duties placed on them due to the pandemic. They faced the risks associated with the coronavirus when making arrests, conducting interviews, enforcing the Mayor’s social distancing rules, and entering hospitals to interview crime victims. Homicide detectives were processing suspected COVID-19 deaths presented which led to additional risks.
On a routine day, NYPD officers lacked appropriate or sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), either going without or forced to reuse PPE due to a shortage of supplies. With so many of their colleagues calling in sick, this put more burden and risk to the officers well enough to perform their duties.
Furthermore, due to the extra stress and anxiety placed on the police, many received injuries occurring on the job as a direct result of coronavirus exposure because either they or their coworkers, were working while sick and impaired due to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 situation is constantly in flux, but the attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine are following all of the latest developments, so they’ll be able to use their knowledge and expertise as it applies to the law and injuries associated with coronavirus exposure.
In the line of duty, police officers can be struck by machinery or large objects when they respond to calls. As a result, they could suffer a serious or minor injury, including injuries to their head, back, neck, arms, and legs, to name a few. Other injuries they can sustain from coming into contact with objects include bruises, lacerations, broken bones, and traumatic brain injury. In some cases, NYPD officers could sustain internal injuries as well.
In many circumstances, NYPD members are called to push themselves to exhaustion, both mentally and physically, which can also create a hazardous situation and lead to injury.
Correction officers have also, unfortunately, become subject to heavy COVID-19 exposure. As outbreaks continue to increasingly occur in prisons, many continued to work in the enclosed environments associated with the nature of their jobs.
During the pandemic, numerous officers were forced to work long hours without the ability to practice social distancing. In some cases, COs were forced to come into work despite showing symptoms of illness or even having tested positive for COVID-19.
In these instances, their employers had them put themselves, their colleagues, and prisoners at further risk. The long hours, in some cases, meant double and triple shifts. Exhaustion lowers the body’s resistance and ability to fight off infection, COVID-19 notwithstanding. The working conditions of correction officers in the prisons put themselves and their families at high risk of coronavirus exposure.
If you, or a loved one, has suffered a line of duty injury, the personal injury lawyers at Raphaelson & Levine are here to fight for you and protect your rights. With careful application of the law, as a police officer, you might be entitled to receive financial compensation and other benefits for your injuries, along with pain and suffering and any loss of income.
At Raphaelson & Levine, we are here to protect the heroes working for the NYPD. We appreciate your commitments and are here to serve you. Our law firm serves New York City’s five boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, & Staten Island, along with the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester. Call 212-268-3222 for information about receiving your free case evaluation.