Smiley & Smiley, LLP

NYPD crash language is finally changing for the benefit of all

Last month, we wrote about new NYPD policies that will help to ensure that victims of the most severe kinds of crashes benefit from thorough investigations by the department. This is not the only change currently being implemented within the NYPD with regards to motor vehicle accidents.

The word "accident" is used by attorneys, by law enforcement and by the general public to describe any kind of collision involving a motor vehicle. However, the word "accident" can ultimately impact a person's ability to receive compensation for injuries and property damage caused by a given collision. The word "accident" implies that the collision occurred without the fault of any given party.

As a result of legal semantics complications like this one, the NYPD will now be referring to motor vehicle collisions as crashes or collisions as opposed to accidents. In this way, the department is taking executive notice of the fact that automobile crashes often occur due to the negligence or recklessness of one of the drivers involved.

When collisions are investigated and eventually explored in a courtroom setting, proportionality of blame becomes a critically important determination. This breakdown can ultimately influence compensation options and insurance claim specifics. By eliminating the word "accident" from its vocabulary, the NYPD will likely help to ensure that victims of negligent or reckless collisions are not shortchanged during the personal injury process.

Whether or not a collision is an accident or not is a legal question. If you have questions about a collision you have recently been involved in, please contact an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the legal nuances of the situation.

Source: The Atlantic, "It's No 'Accident': NYPD Changes the Way It Talks About Traffic Deaths," Sarah Goodyear, Mar. 11, 2013

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