Police pursuits, accidents are costly

Posted: May 30, 2014

POLICE-INVOLVED car accidents are a smaller but still significant cost to the city, with more than $22 million paid out in the past six years.

That averages $3.7 million a year - although last year's $4.8 million was the most paid out for car-related claims in recent years, records show.

Claims usually involve police pursuits or officers breaking driving laws, the Daily News found in a review of cases since 2008. Here's a look at a few cases that prompted big payouts:

*  A Kensington woman received a $265,000 settlement last year after two officers chased an ATV the wrong way through a congested neighborhood until the four-wheeler veered onto the sidewalk and hit her, according to her lawsuit. The March 2011 collision threw her across the street and into a pole. She suffered fractures of her spine, ribs, foot and leg and a collapsed lung. Police policy forbids officers from pursuing ATVs and dirt bikes, even though those vehicles aren't permitted on city streets.

*  An officer drove onto a sidewalk in North Philadelphia's Fairhill section in July 2008, pinning a pedestrian to the wall. The man suffered extensive injuries, including a "mangled, degloved" leg. He received a $465,000 settlement in 2011.

*  Officers chasing a suspect in September 2007 - without lights or sirens - sped through at least three red lights and rammed the suspect's car, sending it into another car driven by a North Philadelphia man, according to his lawsuit. The man suffered a broken neck and other injuries and received a $333,000 settlement in 2011. Police policy requires officers to activate lights and sirens during pursuits.

*  An officer reversing down a Logan street in May 2011 smashed into a Tioga man's car, resulting in unspecified injuries. That resulted in a $265,000 settlement last year.

Capt. Francis Healy, special adviser to Commissioner Charles Ramsey, said officials tightened pursuit policies in 2008. Pursuits and accidents, consequently, have declined since, with 509 accidents and 77 pursuits last year, compared with 715 accidents and 289 pursuits in 2008, according to police data.

On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo

Blog: phillyconfidential.com

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