So the accident was not your fault. You were the driver of the vehicle that was not at fault or a passenger in any vehicle involved in an accident. What do you do now? If your motor vehicle accident happened on public property, you should always request a police investigation so that a report can be prepared and you will have all the information about how the accident happened and all parties and insurance companies involved in the accident. If the accident occurred on private property, usually the local police department will not investigate the incident. In that instance, try to get statements and information from not only the parties involved, but also any witnesses that may have seen the accident. Next, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Typically an emergency room visit or urgent care visit on the date of the accident provides good evidence that you were injured in the accident. Now you need to preserve your rights to recover damages for your injuries. Self-help almost always results in high stress and poor results. An insurance company’s goal is minimize your recovery of damages, not to make you whole. Your best choice is to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Don’t talk to any insurance company representative before talking to a lawyer, and particularly don’t give a statement without your lawyer being present.
Generally, officers are not notified by the NOPD that there is an active internal investigation. Most of the time, officers find out that they are involved in an internal investigation when they receive a letter from Civil Service about an extension hearing or they receive a Notice to Render Statement.
The Louisiana Police Officer’s Bill of Rights (LSA 40:2531) requires that administrative investigations be completed within 60 days. The Department has the option of requesting an extension of up to an additional 60 days from the Civil Service Commission. NOPD investigators routinely request the extension in almost every case. Once the investigator requests the extension Civil Service generates a letter to the officer notifying them of the upcoming hearing.
The letter from Civil Service informs the officer of the PIB Control number, the date and time of the hearing, the identity of the hearing officer, and the location of the hearing. Receipt of this letter is often a surprise to officers. The letter also informs the officer of the right to have counsel and that the hearing will not be continued.
If you receive one of these letters, you should contact your FOP attorney, if you have not already done so. If you have already contacted your FOP attorney regarding the investigation, you should still contact your attorney and advise him of the upcoming hearing date. Your FOP attorney can appear on your behalf at this hearing.
An officer is not required to appear at an extension hearing. If the officer does not appear and does not have an attorney appear on his behalf, the extension will simply be granted. The officer also has the option of having his FOP attorney appear on his behalf. Of course, an officer can attend the extension hearing, if he is so inclined.
What happens at an extension hearing? The only issue under consideration at an extension hearing is whether or not the investigator has shown “good cause” for the extension. The facts of the investigation or the propriety of the officer’s actions are not an issue under consideration at an extension hearing. Generally, the investigator is the only person who testifies. The officer or his attorney can ask some limited questions relative to the need for the extension or make a statement with regard to the need for an extension. Again, any questions or statements are relative to the need for an extension. It would not be relevant to ask the investigator about the statement he took from the complainant or a witness.
Once the investigator has testified, the hearing officer makes a recommendation to the Civil Service Commission as to whether or not the extension should be granted. The officer usually receives another letter in the mail form Civil Service which informs the officer that the hearing officer’s recommendation is to be presented to the Civil Service Commission for ratification at their next regular meeting. Generally, there is no testimony at this meeting relative to extension requests The Civil Service Commission merely considers the recommendation of the hearing officer and then ratifies it as its own. Again, an officer who receives such a letter should notify their FOP attorney so that the attorney can appear on his behalf.
Sometimes, an officer learns of an open DI-1 when they receive a Notice to Render Statement from the investigator. Sometimes this form is delivered by email or through the officer’s admin officer.
The Notice to Render Statement form contains several important pieces of information. At the top of the document, the form lists the investigator’s identity as well as the charges being investigated. The form constitutes a written order to appear at a specific location on a specific date at a specific time to render a statement. The location, date, and time can also be found on this form.
If you receive one of these forms, you should contact your FOP attorney if you have not already done so. If possible, you should forward a copy of the Notice to Render Statement form to your FOP attorney. By law, you have up to 30 days to secure representation. However, it is important to make contact with your FOP attorney as quickly as possible. What you do not want is for the date to render a statement to come and go without making contact with the investigator. If the statement date is inconvenient for one reason or another (AWP, furlough, etc.), it is usually possible to reschedule.
Your FOP attorney will discuss the actual statement with you in greater detail with your specific case in mind. The form also lists numerous other things that you can be ordered to do. For example, you can be ordered to take a CVSA, take a urinalysis, or stand up in a physical lineup. These things rarely happen. 99 times out of 100, all you would be required to do is render a verbal statement.
You can contact me directly at 504-905-8280 or DAL@LIVLAW.COM.
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