The term “accident” has long been used to describe the phenomenon of vehicles colliding with each other or with pedestrians and cyclists. In New York, however, the term has become a lightning rod for criticism.
The New York Police Department is infamous for lackluster investigations following serious or fatal collisions and its reports finding “no criminality.” In an environment where much of the public believes that the police aren’t properly investigating crashes and finding legal culpability, many find that the authorities’ use of the word “accident” fails to describe the seriousness of such events.
In a positive move, city authorities finally agree and will seek to eliminate “accident” as the primary description of injuries and deaths involving automobiles or bicycles.
“In the past, the term ‘accident’ has sometimes given the inaccurate impression or connotation that there is no fault or liability associated with a specific event,” NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly wrote in a letter to the City Council.
Some of the key changes in NYPD policy include:
· The Accident Investigation Squad will soon be known as the Collision Investigation Squad.
· The Collision Investigation Squad will investigate crashes involving critical injuries or when circumstances warrant it. The old policy was to investigate collisions only when someone died or was likely to die.
It remains to be seen whether the city is making a fundamental shift in the way it views NYC vehicle collisions or whether it’s merely paying lip service to safety advocates and crash victims outraged by outdated NYPD policy.
If you or a loved one is seriously injured in a crash, you need an experienced NY auto accident attorney to investigate and serve as your advocate. If you are not quite ready to contact a lawyer, we’ve created a collection of injury resources you may find helpful.
Source: The Atlantic Cities, “It’s No ‘Accident’: NYPD Changes The Way It Talks About Traffic Deaths,” Sarah Goodyear, March 11, 2013