Unfortunately, car accidents are common in the United States, with over 2 million reported cases each year, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2021 alone, approximately 42,915 people died in fatal car crashes. Speeding and distracted driving are major contributors to these accidents, with more than 30 incidents caused by speeding occurring daily.
But what happens if a police car hits you? It’s essential to understand whether the cop car that hit you was responding to an emergency or driving carelessly. In this blog, we will explore what happens if a police car hits you and the potential steps you can take.
What Happens if a Police Car Hits You?
Following a car accident, the driver who acted negligently is typically assigned fault. If a driver is speeding or breaks any traffic laws leading up to the crash, they may be considered at fault. In the case of police car accidents, common factors that contribute to these collisions include:
- Speeding above the posted limit
- Running through a red light or stop sign
- Failing to yield
- Wrong-way driving
- Illegal U-turns
If you sustain injuries in a collision with a police vehicle, you may have the opportunity to seek damages from various parties, including the officer who hit you, the police department, the state, city, county, or federal government, or even a fleeing suspect. When a police officer causes injuries or property damage by crashing into another vehicle, the responsible party can be held financially liable. However, it’s important to note that there are situations where a police officer may be required to speed or break traffic laws due to the nature of their duties.
When Is a Police Officer Exempt from Traffic Laws?
Most states allow traffic law exemptions for emergency vehicles, including police cars, ambulances, and firetrucks, when lives are in danger. A police officer may be exempt from traffic laws if they were:
- Responding to an emergency when the accident occurred
- In pursuit of a criminal suspect
- Driving an emergency vehicle
- Displaying emergency lights and sirens
However, it’s important to understand that police officers are not permitted to violate laws without a valid reason. If a police officer is driving recklessly when there is no emergency or causes a collision due to texting or distracted driving, they can be held responsible for any resulting damages.
What are the Potential Damages for a Collision Involving a Police Car?
A car crash can result in various damages, leaving you injured and unable to work for an extended period. In catastrophic accidents, individuals can suffer permanent disabilities or lose their lives. Personal injury laws provide an avenue to seek compensation for damages such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
These damages can help alleviate the financial burden caused by the accident and aid in your recovery process.
Can You Seek Compensation for Wrongful Death After a Crash Involving a Police Car?
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident involving a police car, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. By filing a lawsuit against the city or public entity responsible, you can seek compensation for expenses incurred due to your relative’s wrongful death, including:
- Your loved one’s medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Burial or cremation expenses
- Loss of consortium
To be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit, you must be a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the deceased individual. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the legal process and help hold the responsible party accountable for your loved one’s passing.
Should You Seek Compensation Through Your Car Insurance?
Holding a police officer or their employer accountable for a car accident can be challenging, especially when dealing with government agencies. In many cases, depending on the extent of your damages, it may be more practical to seek compensation through your auto insurance. You receive the necessary funds for car repairs by filing a claim with your insurer. This process is often easier and faster than filing a civil lawsuit. Consulting with a lawyer can help you evaluate your options and determine the most suitable course for obtaining compensation.
Should You Hire a Lawyer for an Accident Involving a Police Car?
Regardless of the accident’s severity or what happens if a police car hits you, it is advisable to at least consult with a lawyer. At Pacin Levine, P.A., we offer complimentary case reviews with no risk to you. By seeking legal guidance, you can ensure that you work with a qualified team that understands how to handle your case effectively.
Pacin Levine, P.A. is a law firm that can provide valuable assistance in your situation by:
- Explaining relevant traffic laws
- Gathering and preserving evidence
- Investigating the cause of your collision
- Determining whether the police officer who hit you acted negligently
- Calculating the total of your accident-related losses
- Filing your insurance claim or lawsuit for compensation
- Handling all communications with insurance companies
When a police car is involved in an accident, navigating the claims process can be more complex due to the involvement of city or government agencies. However, by enlisting the help of an attorney, you can rely on their expertise to navigate the bureaucracy and pursue the desired results. If you need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Pacin Levine, P.A. at (305) 760-9085 or 1-800-24-7-CRASH (2727).