$71,000 FOR OFFICER INJURED BY DRUNK HOMEOWNER DURING HOUSE CALL

The unruly homeowner swings at the officer and grabs hold of the officer’s duty belt near his taser and pepper spray…

The unruly homeowner swings at the officer and grabs hold of the officer’s duty belt near his taser and pepper spray…

A few nights before Christmas, Mrs. Cuto calls the police for help getting her intoxicated husband back into their home. The responding police officer, Frank Sampson, finds Mr. Cuto in his backyard lying down on his back in the snow. Officer Sampson assists Mr. Cuto to his feet but he promptly loses his balances and falls backward. Mr. Cuto screams from the top of lungs as Officer Sampson tries to assist Mr. Cuto back into his home. With neighbors looking on, Mr. Cuto violently resists and takes a swing at Officer Sampson. Mr. Cuto grabs hold of Officer Sampson’s duty belt near his taser and pepper spray, forcing Officer Sampson to defensively strike Mr. Cuto. Officer Sampson takes Mr. Cuto down to the icy ground, injuring his right wrist in the process. Finally, Mr. Cuto is handcuffed and loaded into the police cruiser. Immediately following this incident, Officer Sampson notices sharp pains in his dominant right wrist and was unable to hold anything.

Fortunately, Officer Sampson’s cruiser was outfitted with cameras, which recorded much of the incident. The recordings clearly evidenced Mr. Cuto’s extreme intoxication and uncooperativeness. Mr. Cuto admitted to charges of disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, and assault.

As for Officer Sampson, he was taken by ambulance to the hospital where a CT scan confirmed a wrist fracture near the base of his right thumb. Officer Sampson’s wrist was immobilized in a cast for about three months followed by a month of occupational therapy. Due to his injuries, Officer Sampson was unable to work for over four months. The injury claim we presented for Officer Sampson to Mr. Cuto’s homeowners insurance company included lost earnings from details and overtime hours he was unable to earn while he was out injured. We ultimately resolved Officer Sampson’s case for $71,000 with Mr. Cuto’s homeowner insurance company.

For those who are unaware, homeowners’ insurance policies typically provide personal liability coverage for injuries negligently caused by the homeowner or the homeowner’s relative resident. A common type of injury claim against a homeowner’s policy would be a slip and fall on ice on the insured premises itself, or, as we saw in Officer Sampson’s case, injuries caused by resisting arrest. Furthermore, the resisting arrest need not occur on the premises for the homeowner’s insurance policy to apply.

– Jared N. Ballin

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.