When a Police Vehicle Bumps Into Your Car: Can You Sue?
Police officers don’t have an undemanding job. They face unknown situations every day, and the mental and physical demands placed on them are rarely seen by any occupation other than possibly the military or other first responders. However, they are human just like everyone else, which means they make mistakes. These mistakes may come with serious consequences for others, and this is where it might be possible for a victim of a mistake to get compensation.
For instance, what happens when a police officer is chasing a dangerous suspect and wrecks their car? In the process, they might injure one or more bystanders. Normally, the person or someone in the vicinity would call the police for help. What happens when a police officer causes the injury? Who do you call? The injured party should contact an accident attorney or abogado de accidente for help. The lawyer works with the client to hold the police department and officer liable for the injuries and property damage.
Negligence on the Part of the Police
The law can deem police officers negligent, just like any other person. While officials give law enforcement officers more protection under the law, when it comes to civil laws, they are not immune when the law determines they acted negligently. The problem a victim might encounter is proving their negligence, which is why many seek legal representation. An experienced attorney knows what the law allows for those in law enforcement and when an officer has stepped out of bounds.
Society may deem a police officer and their department liable for the actions of the officer while on duty. For instance, if a police officer uses excessive force and the accused suffers an injury or dies, the victim or their family may sue the officer and the department. The same holds true when an officer strikes a person or a vehicle with his cruiser while on duty. They may sue the officer and the department to get compensation for the injuries or the damage.
Suing Law Enforcement
Victims must know the proper steps to take if they wish to sue law enforcement. For instance, they must know the statute of limitations and how it applies to their case. Often, the first step involves notifying the department in writing of the incident, any injuries, and the property damage resulting from the officer’s negligence. The department may require a special form for this purpose, so be sure you obtain the correct information. You don’t want to find that your claim isn’t valid because you failed to take the proper steps. Sadly, this does happen to some victims.
Once the victim files this report, if required, a lawsuit might be the next step. Many jurisdictions have a shorter statute of limitations when an individual or entity is suing a government agency. This measure functions to protect the government from as many lawsuits as possible. Sadly, the victim is the one hurt by this reduction in the statute, as they aren’t aware there are different laws in place for government agencies. A lawyer has this information and works with the client to ensure they meet all deadlines. This is especially important when the accident took place in another state, as the laws may be different. It’s crucial that a person follow the law to the letter to ensure they get the compensation they deserve.
Is a Lawyer Necessary?
A victim might find they want to handle the case without paying for legal representation. Although this is allowed and perfectly acceptable, men and women must realize suing any government agency comes with unique pitfalls. The reduced statute of limitations is only one thing the average person may not be aware of, and there are others. In addition, the facts might call for expert testimony, they may require an accident reconstruction to prove the victim’s case, and more. The lawyer works with the client to find the proof needed to ensure the victim’s claim succeeds in a court of law.
A victim of negligence on the part of a police officer might find they suffer emotional distress because of the incident. Can the victim seek compensation for their distress? The victim must meet certain conditions before the case can proceed, however. For example, it falls on the victim to show the actions of the police officer were intentional or reckless for the case to be successful in a court of law. The victim might also show that the actions of the officer were so negligent that this led to emotional distress on the part of the victim.
The Chances of Success
Victims of police negligence often wonder if they should pursue a case. Will they win in a court of law, as many individuals may be hesitant to find law enforcement guilty? Negligence cases are easier to prove than civil forfeiture cases, for example. Additionally, the law is less likely to protect a police officer in this type of case. In the event the victim wins, they may receive actual, punitive, and civil rights damages. These monetary awards help the victim as they move through this challenging time.
Any dispute with a police officer tends to be a complex matter. A person might find they wish to take on the department alone, but doing so is rarely wise. The department has lawyers on hand to address lawsuits filed against the department or one of its officers. The victim needs the same legal representation, especially when there may be a question of qualified or governmental immunity.
For this reason, any person thinking of suing a law enforcement officer or agency should speak to an attorney. Even if the victim finds they don’t want to hire the lawyer for representation, this initial meeting provides the victim with much-needed advice and information. With this advice and information, the victim then finds it easier to determine whether to proceed with the claim. Once they make this decision, moving forward with life becomes an easier task. That’s the most important thing at this time.