$100,000 FOR OFFICER INJURED ON DETAIL BY HIT AND RUN DRIVER

In the event of a hit and run, the officer’s salary and medicals will be covered under injury-on-duty benefits, but who pays for the overtime and detail shifts the officer misses and compensates the officer for his injuries, pain and suffering and diminished quality of life? This officer received $100,000 from his own auto insurance policy when he was struck by a hit and run driver while working a detail.

What happens when a car hits an officer on duty and drives away before anyone catches its license plate?  The officer’s salary and medical bills will be covered under Chapter 41, but who pays for all the overtime and detail shifts that officer misses while out injured and the massive disruption to the officer’s life from injuries, treatment, and pain and suffering?

Officer Valient was the sole officer positioned in the center of a busy intersection while a demolition crew took down an old brick building and tractor trailers were loaded with the debris to haul away.  When a tractor trailer missed its mark backing into place, it jolted forward into the intersection.  At the same time, Officer Valient stopped a white sedan. The drive of the white sedan decided he was done waiting.  Without warning he drove into the intersection.  The other vehicles stopped just before colliding.  Officer Valient then directed the white sedan to go straight through the intersection to allow the trailer to complete its maneuver.  Instead, the white sedan cut the corner around Officer Valient, running over his left foot in the process.  Officer Valient went down in pain.  The white sedan was gone before he got up, and no one at the site caught the plate.

Surgery was required to repair Officer Valient’s ankle and he missed almost ten months of work.  The overtime and detail income he relies on stopped, but his obligations did not.  Fortunately, he carried $100,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage on his personal automobile insurance policy.  Uninsured motorist coverage is broad protection to compensate anyone injured by a car that has no insurance.  That coverage protects everyone, including police officers on duty, for injuries caused by a vehicle with no insurance.  A car can have no insurance for myriad reasons including non-payment, stolen cars, NH drivers, or a hit and run like this one.  The math on these claims gets complicated, but we were able to convince Officer Valient’s insurer that his claim was worth his full $100,000.00 policy limit, and because he did not cause a car crash, his premiums were unaffected.  Further boosting his recovery, the town employing Officer Valient had no right to recovery from that settlement for monies paid under Chapter 41, which is the law across the board for officers recovering compensation from uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on their personal automobile policies.

So, what should officers do now to protect themselves?  Officer must carry high limits for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.  Police spend as much or more time on and near the road as anyone and are therefore at far greater risk of anything from minor to major motor vehicle collisions.  We recommend at least $250,000.00 per person and $500,000.00 per occurrence limits.  To learn more click here and watch Attorney Steven Ballin’s recorded webinar on this topic.

THREE CRITICAL FACTS POLICE MUST KNOW ABOUT UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED COVERAGE FROM THEIR OWN PERSONAL AUTO INSURANCE:

  1. It protects you on and off duty – in the cruiser, on foot, at a detail… anywhere:
  2. It protects you from vehicles causing you harm with no or low insurance; and
  3. There is no downside. Your premiums cannot go up if you did not cause a crash with your car.

In order to protect the privacy of the injured officer and witnesses, all names have been changed. Any resemblance to names of real persons, past or present, is merely coincidental and not intended. The injured officer agreed to have this article published in order that public safety officers around the Commonwealth be better educated about their legal rights to compensation when injured.

- Zachary M. Ballin, Esq.

– Zachary M. Ballin, Esq.