Although car accidents are pretty common on Californian roads, car crashes involving law enforcement officers are quite rare. However, this is not to mean they do not happen. A police officer might cause an accident during a police chase against a suspect, or even due to negligence. What do you do when you are injured in a car crash involving a police car? Who will be held liable? Discussed below are answers to these questions.
Who is Liable in an Accident Involving a Police Car?
The issue of liability in a car accident caused by a police officer comes down to the specific situation.
If it was an emergency, the officer will not be held liable. Why? In the state of California, under Vehicle Code 21055, police officers, paramedics, and other emergency responders are allowed to drive in ways that aren’t par with traffic rules when responding to an emergency.
They may exceed the speed limit or even run red lights when responding to emergencies. That means if a police officer hits you while responding to an emergency they’ll not be held liable for the injuries and damages. However, they’ll have to prove the following:
- They were using an authorized emergency car (police vehicle)
- They reasonable sounded a siren and front red warning lights
- They were responding to an emergency
However, this doesn’t mean police officers are above the law. If the accident is as a result of negligence, then you may file a claim against the city or the county. This is because according to California’s Vehicle Code 17000, a public entity is liable for death, injuries or property damage caused by negligent employees in the operation of any motor vehicle owned by the entity.
So, depending on the law enforcement agency in question, either the state, county or city can be held liable for the injuries and damages arising from the accident.
What to Do after a Police-Involved Car Crash
Here are things you should do after a police car hits you:
The first thing you should always do after any accident is assess your injuries and check to see if those you are with are okay. If you can, you should also check to see if the other driver is okay and while at it, call for emergency medical personnel.
Accidents involving police officers are quite tricky and since pictures are indisputable, ensure you take photos of the accident scene. Take pictures showing the position of the cars, traffic lights, skid marks on the road and even obstacles. These will serve as evidence should you decide to sue the state, city, or county.
Ask for a Copy of the Incident Report
Just as with a regular accident, the officers responding to the crash will generate an incident report. Ensure you request copies of all publicly available reports. Ensure you take contacts of the witnesses available, and record personal accounts from the involved.
Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
A car crash with a regular driver is bad, but a car crash with a police officer is worse. Ensure you hire an experienced personal injury attorney with immediate effect. They’ll know what to do to ensure you get proper compensation.
If you or someone close was recently involved in a car accident with a police car, contact RS Law Office today to get professional legal assistance.