New York Police Strike Cyclist, Send Him Bill

A police car in Brooklyn struck and injured 31-year-old cyclist Justin Johnsen last November, according to the New York Post. A 2009 Ford Taurus ran into Johnsen from behind as he was cycling to work on Flushing Avenue that morning, and the vehicle turned out to be an unmarked police car. Johnsen said he was following traffic rules and riding in the bike lane before being sent flying. He did not receive any citations following the incident that left him with deep cuts that required stitches—but he did get something else last month that was the equivalent of salt in the wounds: a $1,263.01 bill for the damage to the police cruiser that struck him.

“I think it’s preposterous,” Johnsen told the Post. “I was upset. I was kind of in disbelief that they were going to send this letter after four months or so and ask me to pay for their vehicle, when they hit me when I was on a bicycle. I had left the bike lane to make a left turn, and I looked behind me and saw that it was clear, and the farthest car was a fair distance.”

Johnson claims he signaled his left turn but was struck from behind be the Taurus traveling in the same direction. There were two officers in the car at the time. While they did not apologize to Johnsen following the collision, Johnsen described their demeanor as “friendly.” Johnsen did not consider filing any claims to pay for medical bills, which were hundreds of dollars. Johnsen sought the counsel of an attorney only after he received the bill from the city.

According to the Post, Johnsen’s case was at least the third in recent months in which New York City has billed people for damages to police cars that hit people. The Post also claimed that after the newspaper made inquiries about Johnsen’s case, it marked at least the third time the city “abruptly dropped such a stunning demand for money.”

This is an example of why bicycle accident victims should immediately consult with an attorney, even if the incident seems minor at the time. The full effects of several types of catastrophic injuries are not always immediately apparent, and it is important for individuals to understand all of their rights.

Tip of the week: Never admit any kind of fault following an accident—contact an attorney before making any kind of statement to insurance agents.

Bonnici Law Group, APC—San Diego bicycle accident attorney


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