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Police escape liability from personal injury lawsuit as a result of a Car Accident

Strange enough, an unlicensed driver was given access to a police vehicle. Why you ask? The Defendant worked at the Fordham car wash. The police, wanting to get the police vehicle cleaned, relinquished control of the vehicle to the defendant, who ran the police vehicle into the plaintiff. The court finds that the plaintiff failed to show that the police were negligent in failing to ascertain whether the plaintiff had a license. After all, he was a car wash attendant...The Court also finds that

The City is also not vicariously liable as the owner of the van pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law § 388(1), which is designed to hold vehicle owners vicariously liable for the negligence of those whom they allow to drive their vehicles (see Tikhonova v Ford Motor Co., 4 NY3d 621, 623 [2005]; Carter v Travelers Ins. Co., 113 AD2d 178 [1st Dept 1985]). Vehicle and Traffic Law § 388(2) specifically exempts "police vehicles," which are defined by Vehicle and Traffic Law § 132-a, in relevant part, as "[e]very vehicle owned by the state, a public authority, a county, town, city or village, and operated by the police department or law enforcement agency of such governmental unit . . ." Here, the result turns on the meaning of the word "operated" within the statute.

The police avoid liability. This case should emphasize the importance of knowing the law before bringing a personal injury action against the police. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris for a free evaluation of your matter.

The case is Guevara v Ortega, 2016 NY Slip Op 01106 (1st Dep't, Feb. 16, 2016)

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