Derek J. Spada Wins Verdict Against New York State Trooper

photo of car crash

In January of 2022, Derek won a non-jury trial verdict for a Basch & Keegan client. Our client was awarded $888,500, and this figure will increase to approximately $945,000 with interest.

Our client was driving on Hurley Avenue when a NY State Trooper crossed the double-yellow line and struck her car head-on. The judge found that the trooper was driving recklessly by speeding and crossing the double yellow line as he responded to a non-emergency call. This collision was captured on two surveillance videos from a private home on Hurley Avenue. Here is the chilling video showing the crash:

Derek hired an engineer to analyze the videos and determine the speed of the Trooper’s vehicle, which was calculated to be 58 to 62 miles per hour.

Under New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law section 1104(a), police officers are granted limited immunity and protected from liability if they are responding to an emergency at the time of the accident. However, they cannot operate a vehicle recklessly. In short, recklessness is defined as an intentional act of unreasonable character, in disregard of a known or obvious risk that is so great that it is highly probable that harm would follow. In this case, immunity did not apply to the Trooper for two reasons: firstly, he was driving recklessly, and secondly, he was responding to a non-emergency call.

While the Trooper did not intentionally cause this collision, his conduct unjustifiably endangered other motorists and he needed to be held accountable.

Hurley Avenue in the location of the collision is a two-lane roadway with one lane in each direction and a speed limit of 35 miles an hour. The State Trooper was traveling in the opposite direction of our client while going between 55 and 62 miles per hour. The Trooper had his lights on, but no siren. As soon as our client saw the oncoming Trooper’s SUV, it appeared that he began to lose control. He started to fishtail while traversing a sharp curve and entered her lane. Our client immediately slammed on her brakes and steered to the right. She moved her vehicle as far to the right as she could, driving onto the shoulder. Unfortunately, the Trooper was traveling too fast to recover once he lost control. His SUV crossed the double yellow line and struck our client head-on. Notably, his SUV crossed the entire lane and was partially on the shoulder to the right of her lane when the impact occurred. Our client did all that she could to avoid the collision, but there was nothing more that she could do.

Following the collision, another State Trooper arrived on the scene. The other Trooper yelled at our client, dumped out the contents of her purse onto the roadway and was unconcerned about her injuries.

Our client was rushed the hospital with severe injuries, including severe tears to her left shoulder that required surgery. She also sustained injuries to her neck, back and right hip. Our client’s shoulder injuries improved after surgery, but she did not make a complete recover and has some permanent deficits.

Furthermore, our client was the CEO of a business and suffered economic losses resulting from her time missed from work due to her injuries.

Derek presented the facts to the court with eyewitnesses, experts and surveillance video of the collision. Basch & Keegan held a reckless driver accountable, and our client received a favorable verdict that will help ease her pain and suffering while recouping her economic losses.

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