Who’s accountable when a police car causes a crash?

Cruiser Crashes

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Three police officers were hospitalized following two separate crashes involving alleged drunk drivers over the weekend. According to authorities, the officers have since been released from the hospital, and the drivers involved in the crashes have been charged with DWI. However, a third crash happened, which appears to have been caused by one of the officers.

When it comes to accidents involving police vehicles where the officer is at fault, the process for handling damages can differ from typical procedures. Captain Greg Bello of the Rochester Police Department explained, “Similar to an insurance company if you get into an accident and the other party is at fault, you file a claim against the other party. Instead of filing a claim with the insurance agency like a Geico or Progressive, something along those lines, people file claims with the city law department.” He added that if the city is found at fault for the crash, then the law department will compensate for the damages.

State law stipulates that as long as the emergency vehicle was performing its duty and did not act recklessly, the agency and the respective city or town are not held financially responsible. This rule applies even in situations where civilian property is damaged by a city-operated vehicle, such as a snowplow or a police car.

The latest events come at a challenging time for the department, which is reportedly short 70 officers.

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