Getting into an accident with a police officer can create a complicated situation that is not the same as a normal car accident. You may think that police officers have certain protections available to them if they hit another vehicle, but the officers and the city can still be liable for any injuries caused in the accident.
Some of the common steps remain the same after getting into an accident with a police vehicle. For instance, make sure that everyone is okay immediately after the fact. Then, everyone involved should seek medical attention, even if they think they are not injured. Sometimes injuries can pop up even days after the fact.
Much like with other accidents, do not admit fault. This can be difficult when there is a police officer potentially accusing you or asking questions, but do not be intimidated. You do not have to answer questions, and the police officer will not be the one who is determining who is at fault. That will be left to a third party, such as the courts. The officer will certainly be biased in this situation.
Determining Fault After an Accident With a Police Car
When it comes to determining fault, accidents with police cars are no different than regular accidents. Whoever was the negligent party is the one who is at fault. This can include speeding, running a red light, failing to yield, and other regulations and laws can be broken by police officers too. Do not assume that just because you are not a police officer that you cannot hold the police liable for any injury or emotional distress you might have suffered.
What Was the Officer Doing at the Time of the Accident?
One of the biggest complicating factors in these types of accidents is what the police officer was doing when the incident occurred. There are certain protections built into the law for officers who are responding to an emergency, pursuing a suspect, or performing some other aspect of their job that requires expediency. This means they can legally run red lights and ignore stop signs for instance. It also means that other vehicles need to move out of the way for the police officers to do their jobs. A police officer cannot simply claim that since they are an officer, they do not have to follow traffic laws. They must be responding to an emergent situation for those protections to apply.
Those protections also do not apply if the vehicle did not have its sirens and lights operating at the time of the accident. These are used to warn drivers and pedestrians that they are approaching, and to move out of the way safely if possible. That said, even if the lights and sirens were in operation, it does not mean that the police officer has carte blanche to do anything they want. They may still be liable if they drive dangerously whether they have lights and sirens on or not. They must still keep an eye out for pedestrians and other drivers, and be able to control the speed of the vehicle.
Who Ultimately Pays for Any Damages in a Police-Involved Traffic Accident?
When it comes to an accident involving a police officer, the city or municipality can be held liable for death, injury, or damages that have resulted from that accident. If the police officer was not following a proper duty of care, then you may be entitled to compensation for things like your medical bills, pain and suffering, repairs to your vehicle, and lost wages and earning potential. If the officer and vehicle were from a state or federal agency, then those levels of government may be held liable as well.
A family member can also file a lawsuit if someone was killed in a police car accident. They can claim that a spouse, child or other family member suffered a wrongful death, and claim compensation. This can include costs for funeral expenses, pecuniary damages for grief or sorrow, loss of probable support, companionship, society, comfort and consortium and damages for pain, suffering or disfigurement of the decedent.
Hire an Experienced Traffic Accident Attorney
Accidents involving police officers are incredibly complicated, and making claims against government entities can be difficult and intimidating. Do not let yourself be discouraged. Make sure that you contact an attorney who is experienced at fighting for the rights of victims in traffic accidents. The sooner you call us the better as there are certain procedures that need to done to preserve your claim. The Powerhouse Injury Attorneys offer free consultations to help get the process started and discuss the merits of your case. Call now in Las Vegas at (702) 444-2222 or in Phoenix at (602) 265-5555.