Understandably, a lot of people think that suing the police, city, or government for injuries caused by an accident is utterly impossible. But it is not. The process is just more complicated than a typical car accident involving two or more regular citizens.
Normally, the negligent driver is held liable for the damages, injury, or wrongful death caused by the accident. An insurance company may then pay a settlement claim for economic and non-economic compensation like hospital bills, loss of ability to earn wages, car repairs, and pain caused.
However, if you have been hit by a police or city vehicle, the process is different. You will require a skilled Bronx car accident lawyer to guide you through the complexities.
What to Do After an Accident Involving a Police Vehicle
First, ensure that you and other vehicle occupants are safe. If there are any injuries, get medical help first before anything else.
With any car accident, it is always important to get a doctor’s examination even if you feel okay. It is common for car accident victims to feel like they have not suffered an injury, only for them to develop related complications afterward.
More importantly, the doctor’s report will be a key piece of evidence when claiming a settlement, by proving that the accident caused a certain degree of suffering.
If you can, take detailed pictures of the accident scene. Check for things like skid marks, current weather, traffic, any road marks and signs, damages, and position of the cars.
In addition, ensure that you request a copy of the accident report taken by the dispatch officer sent to investigate the accident. Remember, the police officer involved in the accident has no legal mandate to determine fault. Some officers might employ intimidation tactics to get you admitting to a fault, even though you are not. Instead, contact a car accident attorney right away.
How Do I Sue if the Police Officer Is at Fault?
Government employees, like police officers, might be protected by sovereign immunity. This means that there are cases where normally you can sue a regular citizen, but cannot open a lawsuit against a police officer for the same action.
Fortunately, it is possible to sue a police officer for injuries and other damages. However, you need to have filed a report with the city and a Notice of Claim with the police agency within 90 days after the accident.
The specifics of the laws surrounding this issue differ from state to state. If you are in New York, you can file a civil lawsuit against the department within one year and 90 days from the accident date.
What Can I Expect After Suing for Injury?
Unlike a typical car accident, liability will depend on what the police officer was doing (or not doing) when they caused an accident. If the officer was on normal police duties, there are certain circumstances in which they are not liable for your injuries.
To do this, the officer must show without reasonable doubt:
- They were responding to an emergency when the accident occurred;
- The vehicle involved is authorized for emergencies;
- The front red lightings and sirens were on to warn other road users.
If the important points above are proven, you will not receive any form of compensation from the government.
However, these key factors might hold but the court still finds a police officer liable for the injuries. This happens when one fails to exercise their duty of care on the road such as looking out for pedestrians and slowing down in bad weather.