Families for Safe Streets

Families for Safe Streets

Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets is comprised of victims of traffic violence and families whose loved ones have been killed or severely injured by aggressive or reckless driving and dangerous conditions in Oregon and SW Washington. Our local group is modeled after the original Families for Safe Streets group, banded together in New York City in 2014, with the support of Transportation Alternatives.

“We bear witness to our pain and suffering to press for the elimination of fatalities and injuries on our streets. Through our stories and advocacy, we seek cultural and physical changes on our streets and the rapid implementation of Vision Zero. We envision communities where pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles safely co-exist, and children and adults can travel freely without risk of harm – where no loss of life in traffic is acceptable.”

Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets began organizing in Fall 2015, with support and guidance from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Oregon Walks – though their members make all decisions regarding their initiatives.

To get involved, join our Facebook group or contact Families for Safe Streets by email at orsafestreets@gmail.com.

Darla Sturdy
Member Profile: Darla Sturdy

After her son, Aaron, was killed riding his bike across a light-rail track, Sturdy successfully fought in the Oregon Legislature for safer foot and bike crossings. Now she wants to take the cause nationwide. Eighty crosswalks and 45 light-rail stations made safer. That’s how Darla Sturdy sums up her proudest accomplishment to date. Sturdy, a Gresham mother and career bookkeeper, never imagined a second life as a transportation engineer, much less as a lobbyist.

Kristi Finney-Dunn
Member Profile: Kristi Finney-Dunn

Kristi Finney-Dunn relates her story of heartbreak to careless-driving offenders all over Oregon. When people hear about the real-life consequences of irresponsible driving, they might think twice before doing it again.

David Sale
Member Profile: David Sale

David Sale’s daughter Danielle was struck and killed by a public bus driver making an illegal turn. He turned anguish into activism, helping to make a drivertraining curriculum that is used today by 450 transit companies.

Personal stories

Have you, or someone you loved, been involved in a crash? We can help you. Let us know how we can best reach you.

1. First name Last name-I would prefer to be contacted by phone by email

2. Your email

3. Phone

4. Details of your experience (we assure absolute confidentiality of your information)

To read more member profiles or to get involved, join our Facebook group or contact Families for Safe Streets by email at orsafestreets@gmail.com or call (503) 290-4569.

Driver Accountability and an Overview of the Legal System

The legal system provides different ways to hold the driver accountable and to provide you and your family with necessary financial compensation. These include:

•  Criminal Penalties: These penalties are rare in cases where the driver is sober, licensed, and does not leave the crash scene, but they are increasing in frequency. Criminal prosecution requires action by the district attorney, and you likely will need to demand action.

•  Civil Penalties: Civil penalties involve suing the driver for negligence and monetary damages.

•  Traffic court: Traffic court is where the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles determines whether to suspend or revoke the license of the driver, and whether to impose a fine.

A Challenging Process

It can be a long and complicated process to hold the driver accountable, one which likely requires a lawyer and will likely involve the police, the District Attorney, judges, the Department of Motor Vehicles, insurance companies and more.

Be prepared that you may need to fight to make this happen. It will be a lot of work and emotionally challenging. This is the time to lean on friends and family. We also are here to help.

NYPD Crash Investigation

Regardless of whether you seek criminal or civil penalties, the legal process starts with an investigation by the New York Police Department (NYPD). You will need a police report if you want to be compensated and/or hold the driver accountable in civil, criminal, or traffic court.

At the scene

A New York Police Department (NYPD) precinct officer typically arrives first on the scene. The officer is charged with investigating the crash unless it is determined that someone is seriously injured or has been killed. If so, the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad (CIS) is contacted and conducts a more thorough investigation.

As part of the investigation, the police officer is required to interview witnesses, ascertain whether there are any cameras that may have recorded the crash, and determine whether the driver distracted or under the influence. The CIS should conduct a speed computation if speeding was potentially a factor in the crash. However, if they fail to do so, your attorney should be able to hire someone to conduct the speed computation on your behalf. It is important to stay involved and make sure the police follow through on these critical steps if it was not done at the time of the crash. You may want to appoint a trusted family member or lawyer to follow up.

NYC Crash Reports (This section needs to be localized, preferably by a lawyer)

The police are required to complete a report in any crash causing a personal injury, property damage of more than $1,000, or a fatality.

The report is called the Police Accident Report [1]

(MV-104AN) [2] and is typically written at the scene of the crash.

The NYPD submits all MV-104 reports to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, which puts the crash on the driver’s record and documents the incident for a future insurance claim.

To Obtain a Police Report (This section needs to be localized, preferably by a lawyer)

The police may give a copy of the report to injured individuals at the scene of the crash. If you lost a loved one and/or did not get a copy at the crash site, you may still request one. The NYPD has created a new Outreach Unit to assist families in obtaining crash reports. Jamie Gifkins heads this new unit and can be contacted at 646-610-5500 or jamie.gifkins@nypd.org. In our experience, the police do not always write a report if they deem that the injuries are not serious.

If you were injured and not given a copy of the report, you may request a Police Accident Report at the precinct station, within five days of the crash. If an officer does not get your version of events at the scene, you may also go to the precinct to request that the report be amended. See below for step-by-step instructions in the To Amend A Police Report section. Note that if you decide to hire an attorney, the lawyer can most likely obtain the report for you.

Also, if the police conducted a thorough investigation with photos, witness interviews, and security camera footage of the crash, they will typically only provide the brief summary report (MV-104AN) and not all of the additional material. In our experience, FSS members had to file a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, sometimes more than once, to obtain all of the investigative material. Most all use an attorney for this process, but it is possible to do it on your own.

To request a copy of the MV-104AN, go to the police station in the precinct where the crash happened. You will need:

Photo ID

$10 fee (money order or certified check; no personal checks or cash)

A request for copy of collision record form

Requests must be made within 30 days of the incident. A FOIL can also be filed after 120 days to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles since the NYPD is required to send them copies.

The state DMV charges a $20 fee for a request after 120 days and uses the same form.

To Amend a Police Report (This section needs to be localized, preferably by a lawyer)

Any “involved party” may request to have a Police Accident Report amended.

It is possible that a Police Accident Report will have errors. In addition, we have found that in many instances, the police tend to blame the victim, particularly if the victim is deceased or critically injured and not able to dispute the driver’s assertions about the details surrounding the crash.

To amend a police report, contact the officer or detective handling your case and give them your reasoning for wanting to amend the report.

If the officer refuses to amend the report, file the New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) MV-104 form.

Civil Lawyers

Deciding whether, when, and how to choose a lawyer with the appropriate background and knowledge for your case can be challenging.

Why hire a lawyer?

The decision of whether or not to hire an attorney is an important one. In our experience, it is hard to represent yourself after a loss or serious injury. If you want to make an insurance claim, an attorney can advise and guide you through the process. If you pursue a civil litigation, an attorney is likely necessary.

Even if all you are seeking is restitution through a no-fault insurance claim, you may want to hire an attorney. Although originally designed to be non-adversarial, a no-fault insurance claim has turned out to be just the opposite. The rules change regularly, and failure to comply with even a single element may destroy your rights to collect these benefits. The nuanced rules and procedures of insurance companies require that you find an attorney who can not only navigate a no-fault claim, but also prevent any attempts to deny your benefits. (See also Insurance/Compensation section.)

Most lawyers offer free initial consultations, and you likely won’t be charged up front. That’s because most lawyers in these types of cases use contingency-fee arrangements. The lawyer agrees to handle the case from start to finish in return for the agreement that if the lawyer obtains a recovery, the lawyer gets a percentage of that recovery (commonly 33% or one-third [Is ⅓ common in Oregon?]).

Note that if the driver has only the minimum NYS required liability insurance and there is no one else to sue (e.g., the City, an employer, etc.), it may be very hard to find a lawyer who will properly represent you because they do not stand to gain much financially from your case.

Who to Chose

There are hundreds (maybe fewer in PDX?) of lawyers who help families with compensation claims after the injury or death of a loved one in a traffic crash. Many may contact you, or someone may recommend a person they know. If you are a union member, the union may have a list of recommended lawyers.

It is a difficult choice, but there are some factors you way want to consider and questions you may want to ask. It is advisable to interview more than one attorney before you decide. You likely want a lawyer who has significant, related successful experience with your type of case and will provide the additional support in holding the driver accountable outside of the standard civil court proceeding (if this is something you want to pursue).

Suggested Questions

The following questions can be used to evaluate an attorney. Feel free to tailor these to your specific situation.

Experience

 • What percentage of your practice is personal injury/wrongful death cases?

• How long have you been doing this work?

• How many cases have you brought in the past five years similar to yours? (Ask the attorney to be specific.)

 • How many no-fault claims have you arbitrated in the past three years, and what was the outcome?

 • Have you taught, written or lectured on New York Vehicular and Traffic Laws? (If yes, ask the attorney to explain further.)

 • What experience do you have in relation to [insert own situation]? (e.g., taxi or ride-share driver, TriMet driver, hit-and-run, etc.)

Civil Court Outcomes

 • During the last three years, approximately what percentage of the personal injury cases at your firm have you settled and how many went to trial?

 • When did you last go to trial? Did you try your own cases? What percent were successful?

• In what percentage of cases have you obtained personal payments from defendants in excess of available liability or other insurance?

Wrongful Death

 • Can you please describe any successful, relevant experience in wrongful death cases that you have had in the past three years?

Complex Cases

 • What is your experience and success related to cases against the City for driver negligence (Portland Police Bureau, Portland Bureau of Transportation, etc.)?

 • What is your experience and success related to cases against TriMet?

• What is your experience and success related to cases against the City for road defects?

Minimal/No Insurance

 • What will you do if the driver only has the minimum liability insurance and there is no one else to sue?

 • How many low-insurance claims have you brought to trial in the past three years?

• What experience does your firm have with MVAIC and/or the NYS Office of Crime Victims Assistance?

Criminal Charges

 • Will you assist with the criminal charges, if this is something I want to pursue?

• How many times in recent years have you assisted with bringing criminal charges?

• What specifically will you do?

• Will you attend meetings with the District Attorney’s office?

 DMV Hearing/TLC Tribunal

 • Will you assist with the DMV hearing and/or TLC Tribunal if this is something I want to pursue?

 • How many times in recent years have you done this?

• What specifically will you do?

 Plaintiff-Focused Practice

 • Is your practice primarily a plaintiff practice (meaning do they only represent people like me)?

 • Do you also represent the interests of insurance companies or corporate defendants? (If so, how often?)

 • Are you or your firm a member of any plaintiff attorney organizations (e.g., New York State Trial Lawyers Association or the American Association of Justice)?

 Commitment to Safe streets advocacy

 • Are you involved in safe streets advocacy?

• Are you on the board or active in an any organization that promotes street safety?

• Have you provided any pro bono work on behalf of any street safety group?

General Information

 • Number of attorneys

• History