My father was critically injured 10 days ago when he was hit broadside by the chief of police at a major intersection with traffic lights. My father who was riding a motor scooter recalls having a green light, and this chief who was operating an SUV is claiming the same. An investigation is in progress, but the challenge is that the chief's department is conducting the investigation. Numerous articles have appeared in the local paper over the last week highlighting the conflict of interest and asking "witnesses" to contact the police who are investigating their own. To date none of the witnesses are coming forward. I honestly believe my fathers detailed account of the incident and also believe that the chief would not admit fault in light of potential fall out. Please advise.
Mr. Conway is giving good advice. Your own investigator can start visiting the various businesses and residences situated on all sides of the intersection to see if any employees/residents were eyewitnesses or have cameras that capture the intersection. If you retain an attorney, he can send the necessary letters to the municipality to seek any tapes/picures from public cameras,if any, covering the intersection, as a F.O.I.L request. Even if the municipality holds back on producing such materials right away, on the grounds of an ongoing investigation, they will be put on notice not to destroy such "evidence". You can always try posting a request for witnesses yourself, in newspapers, under the possible (but remote) theory that a witness adverse to the police chief may be scared to go to the police department but might be willing to talk to you. This is a serious matter that you should retain an attorney for as soon as possible.
The best route, for the time being, is probably to hire your own investigator. The police materials will ultimately become discoverable but, for now, they are likely to refuse to release anything on the basis that there is a pending investigation. You should act quickly as witnesses need to be identified as soon as possible. You also need to bear in mind that a Notice of Claim needs to be served upon the municipality within 90 days of the accident. An attorney can assist you with all of this.
I agree with Mr. Conway. In addition, you must put all known insurance carriers on notice including those coveraing all vehicles owned by your father even if he wasn't operating any of them at the time. You should really have any attorney on board especially given the seriousness of your father's injuries.
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