A police officer in West Haven was injured shortly after midnight on Saturday, November 13 by an alleged drunk driver, reports the New Haven Register. The officer was on patrol when a car turning onto Boston Post Road struck his vehicle at about 2:15 a.m. The officer was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. He was treated and released. His name has not been released to the media.
The Register notes that several officers in the West Haven Police Department have suffered injuries in automobile accidents in recent months. Last week, an officer was struck by a CT Transit Bus as he was exiting his vehicle and had to be hospitalized. In September, a car hit an off-duty officer on his motorcycle, breaking his leg. A sergeant was injured in July when someone deliberately rammed his cruiser. The West Haven police chief commented that the department is having staffing difficulties due to recent injuries.
In the Saturday incident, the 27 year-old driver who hit the police officer’s vehicle allegedly had, at the time of the crash, a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit. He also allegedly ran a blinking red light, the equivalent of a stop sign. The driver has been charged with driving under the influence and several other offenses, including failure to grant the right of way at an intersection. The driver could face up to six months in jail if this is his first driving under the influence offense.
From the perspective of a personal injury attorney, the question is whether the driver can be held liable for the officer’s injuries. If the driver acted negligently, then he can be liable for damages, which may include the officer’s medical expenses related to his injuries, lost wages for time missed from work, costs of rehabilitation from his injuries, future lost wages because of rehabilitation or diminished work capacity, and compensation for “pain and suffering” resulting from the injuries. In this particular case, the officer was released from the hospital the same day, so the amount of damages may be small, but some injuries in automobile accidents do not manifest right away.