The LAPD is deliberating whether or not to investigate traffic accidents involving an officer in the same way they would approach an officer-involved shooting. Such a move would involve separating the officers after the incident, and having investigators look into each individual case to determine wrongdoing.
The LA Times reported on the story, which throws some light onto a pretty big issue. Because there are so many accidents involving police (an average of one per day over the last three years), officials implemented a points system to better evaluate officers involved in accidents. Internal affairs investigations, which had been the norm up to 2008, became a drain on IA resources.
The points system, which assigns a certain number of points based on the seriousness of the wrongdoing of the officer, appears to have curtailed the number of accidents. There was a decline between 2009 and 2011 in the number of crashes, but the number of lawsuits related to these accidents remains large. 205 lawsuits were filed in that same three year period, 40% more than the three years before the plan went into effect.
The cost to the department of the lawsuits is staggering. 1,900 lawsuits have been brought against the LAPD since 2002, and a quarter of those are from victims of crashes. $138 million was paid out due to lawsuits brought against the police department, more than the number of lawsuits brought against every other city department combined.
As a Los Angeles car accident attorney, it’s clear to me that there’s still a problem. It’s nice to see the number of accidents decline, but officers who disobey traffic laws and injure bystanders must still be held accountable. That’s why it’s so important to seek a great personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles if you’re ever involved in such an accident. It’s good to know you’ll always have someone in your corner.