I was hit in my car at an intersection by a police car. I had the right of way. Can I sue the police for my injuries?
Possibly. There are a number of procedural and substantive hoops you must go through to bring your case. Since you did not provide many facts, I will outline the issues you would need to consider to answer you question.
First, the procedural issues are the same for all municipal claims. The NYC Police Department falls under the City of New York (as opposed to an agency which has its own set of rules), so your claim is against the City of New York. There are two deadlines of which you must be aware. Claimants against the City of New York must present a notice of claim to the City within 90 days of an accident. Second, the claimant must attend a Comptroller’s hearing under General Municipal Law § 50-h. Third, the claimant must start a lawsuit (that is file a summons and complaint) within one year and 90 days after the accident.
The next topic concerns the substantive defenses for police entering an intersection. At this point I will assume that the policeman driving the car was not just impatient and blew through a red light. Instead, I will assume the police car was responding to an emergency. Under Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104, police cars responding to emergency have a different standard of care than the police car just on patrol NOT responding to an emergency.
An injured plaintiff must prove that the police car operator was operating with “reckless disregard for the safety of others.” (The normal standard of care in personal injury cases is a preponderance of evidence demonstrating negligence. The “reckless” standard was intended to make injured parties prove a higher degree of culpability.) The relevant questions would be if the police officers had BOTH lights and sirens on at the time of the accident. The police officer would also need to testify how he entered the intersection. Did the police car slow down before it entered the intersection or did it speed into the intersection? There are number of questions that the police car driver would need to answer so the jury could determine if the police car was liable for your injuries.