When a police car hits you, it’s a baffling experience. Now what? Will the police take responsibility? Who will pay the costs of the crash?
Let’s start with some good news: Here in California, the police and government can be held accountable for police car accidents. If you’re an injured driver, passenger, or pedestrian, you could receive payment for your medical bills and other losses.
Of course, how you handle your next moves impacts your odds of receiving compensation. Here’s what to do next after an accident with an emergency vehicle like a police car.
The Crucial Moments After the Crash
Immediately after the accident, stay calm and assess yourself for injuries. Don’t leave the scene or make sudden movements toward the police officer, because they may interpret your behavior as suspicious.
Tell the officer you’re injured or call 911 for help. Accept medical treatment at the scene of the accident. Otherwise, your refusal of medical care could prevent you from successfully claiming compensation later.
Interacting with a police officer might feel intimidating, but don’t automatically admit fault for the crash. Keep your answers brief. Remember, it’s not this police officer’s role to decide what happened. You’ll have a chance later to make your case to the court.
Determining Liability in Police Car Accidents
At this point, it’s easy to see why you need a car accident injury lawyer to help you handle your case. You’re facing the bureaucracy of a police force and government agency that probably won’t be eager to pay the costs. Plus, you could be dealing with an officer who’s blaming you for their crash.
Was someone else also involved? Maybe a drunk driver was fleeing from the police and crashed into your car. There could even be multiple innocent people suffering the aftermath of a police-involved crash, just like you.
These are complex situations where it’s challenging to sort out liability. Your chances of receiving compensation may come down to how much you can prove and how much experience your lawyer has with handling police-related claims.
Factors that impact liability include:
- Who was violating the law
- Behavior like speeding or running red lights
- Failures to yield to vehicles/pedestrians
- Chain-reaction collisions
- The weather, visibility, and road conditions
- Whether the police officer had their lights and sirens activated
- Whether the police car was authorized and clearly marked
- Whether the officer was actively engaged in an emergency situation
All police officers don’t have automatic immunity from responsibility for car accidents. They’re granted some leeway when they’re actively involved in emergencies, as long as their lights and sirens are activated. But that’s certainly not blanket permission to hurt people.
Plus, any police officer can act negligently, even in an active emergency situation. For example, they might fail to meet their duty of care by not looking out for pedestrians or blatantly speeding through a school zone full of children. Negligence is a relevant factor.
Does a Police-Involved Crash Limit My Compensation?
Here’s a heads-up that a state officer’s involvement might limit the money you receive. California has special state laws governing the liability of public officials like police officers.
A California Highway Patrol officer is usually immune from a civil lawsuit because they’re a state employee. This means it’s extremely important to determine at the outset whether the officer is a state employee.
Even if you can sue, your ability to receive full compensation depends on the context. You might be able to sue a small city or town for its officer causing a crash, but your award could be minimal because five other injured people are claiming a slice of the same pie. And what if you get a judge who’s sympathetic to police officers, but not you?
These examples show the importance of having a talented personal injury lawyer by your side. The right lawyer can help you stand up to the police and government, showing why you deserve the maximum possible compensation for a police car hitting you.
We Handle Your Police Car Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After your accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of personal injury law, including police car and emergency vehicle accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details. We truly care about the people of California. Call 877-380-8852 today for a free case evaluation.