New York revises handlings of traffic collisions and injuries
Police in New York are changing their approach to investigating and reporting car crashes to better reflect how serious these absolutely devastating happenings can be for victims. Until now, there has been a pattern of resistance in issuing criminal charges when a driver hits another vehicle or individual. This shift in approach could change that.
The first alteration is a change to the verbiage used to discuss these life-altering events. Instead of the word "accident," police in New York will now use the term "collision." This might seem like a small shift, but the effect is significant. The New York Times cited a letter from NYPD commissioner to the City Council in which the commissioner says, "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."
This change in verbiage reflects that most collisions are preventable. There is often an identifiable act of negligence that results in the impact. Be that intoxication, texting, speeding or a host of other behaviors, this negligence is often devastating. Calling the results of this negligence an accident is wrong, and serves to diminish the sufferings of victims seriously injured.
Additionally, investigators were only called upon the scene in the past when a crash victim was killed or likely to die from their injuries. Now, investigators will be dispatched when there is any sort of serious injury or unique circumstance. This could mean that more negligent drivers that cause a collision are held criminally liable for the happening.
If a victim survives a catastrophic collision, they could have injuries that change the entire course of their life, necessitating life-long care and medical attention. Calling this outcome an accident seems to minimize this unfair fate. A victim of a collision in New York can still hold a negligent party accountable by pursing financial compensation with the assistance of an attorney. This shift in the approach to collisions in New York could mean that in addition to being held financially liable, a negligent driver could also be held criminally liable.