Any hit-and-run accident can be devastating. When a driver who causes a crash flees the scene, it can be particularly difficult to find them so that they can be held accountable for their actions. Sometimes, however, finding the driver is only part of the story, as there may be other parties who contributed to causing the accident, possibly including officers of the law. In fact, the Connecticut Supreme Court recently took up a case in which an injured victim claims that a municipal police officer failed in his duties, which subsequently allowed a serious hit-and-run accident to occur.
A Complicated Story
As with most cases that reach the Supreme Court, the case in question involves a complex chain of events, beginning with a domestic disturbance call in November 2006. According to court documents, an East Haven police officer responded to the call at an East Haven McDonald’s where a couple was arguing inside a work van. The license plates on the van were registered to a different vehicle, and the officer could not confirm a valid driver’s license for either of the van’s occupants. After settling the couple down, the officer took the driver home and instructed him to leave the van at the McDonald’s.
Less than an hour later, the driver returned to the McDonald’s and was driving through New Haven when he hit and seriously injured an 18-year-old young man as the man was getting into a car parked on the side of the road. The man suffered a number of injuries including several compound fractures. The driver of the van fled the scene but was later arrested at his home for fleeing the scene of an accident and other traffic violations. Upon arrest, police confirmed the discrepancy in the vehicle’s license plates and that the driver did not have valid insurance or registration for the van, neither of which were included in the officer’s report from the domestic disturbance call.
The injured victim filed a lawsuit against the responding officer, as well as Town of East Haven. The lawsuit alleged that the officer was negligent in failing to have the van towed and impounded as a result of the misuse of plates and the lack of insurance. The suit also claimed that the driver was only allowed to go free because he was friends with East Haven police officers. At trial, the jury found in favor of the injured man and awarded him $12.2 million in damages.
Levels of Appeal
The Town of East Haven appealed the verdict. The appeals court determined that the officer did not have a specific, “ministerial duty” to have the van towed and impounded, so he could not be found negligent in those duties. Thus, the court ruled, the town cannot be held liable for the young man’s injuries.
The victim appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court agreed and heard arguments in the case. No decision has been reached yet.
Skilled Attorney for Complex Personal Injury Cases
This particular case is fairly unique in that it combined a number of different elements, including police behavior, municipal liability, moving violations, and a hit-and-run accident. If you have been injured in an accident caused by multiple at-fault parties, an experienced Connecticut personal injury lawyer can help you collect the compensation you need to put your life back together. Call 860-290-8690 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Woolf Law Firm, LLC today.