Lee M. Schwalben, M.D., J.D., LLC
Personal Injury Law
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Catastrophic injuries lead to police officer's death

Law enforcement officials are supposed to be the ones investigating crashes, not the ones involved in them. However, because they are often walking around the scene or in their stopped patrol cars, the potential is always there. Far too many officers across the country, and here in Louisiana, suffer catastrophic injuries while working motor vehicle accidents.

Recently, a 32-year-old police officer was at the scene of an accident on the shoulder of Interstate 10 and involving several vehicles. It was approximately 2:30 a.m., and police had set up road flares and other warning lights to warn other drivers. Despite these safety measures, a suspected drunk driver barreled through the crash site and struck the officer's patrol car.

The New Orleans police officer suffered serious injuries in the crash for which she was taken to an area hospital. Just days later, she succumbed to her injuries, leaving behind a 5-year-old child. In contrast, nearly 45 minutes before she was hit, a Louisiana State Police trooper suffered minor injuries after an accident involving another suspected drunk driver on another stretch of Interstate 10.

Even though the deceased officer's family could receive death benefits since she died on-the-job, a third-party wrongful death claim could also be filed by surviving family members. If the court determines that the negligence of another caused or contributed to her catastrophic injuries and subsequent death, damages could be awarded to supplement other benefits. Any restitution received could help with the unexpected expenses that are incurred when a premature death occurs and for raising the officer's child.

Source: nola.com, "NOPD officer Natasha Hunter dies of injuries from I-10 crash", Ben Myers, June 7, 2016