Accident Lawyer Explains Auto Accident Cases Involving Police

Every year, thousands of Americans are injured or killed in accidents with police and other emergency vehicles. Often the victims of these crashes were not at fault, but they hesitate to contact an accident lawyer to pursue a legal case. Why? Because they believe that the police have immunity from liability. This is not correct. Even if a personal injury accident involves the police, the injured party has a right to compensation.

Scary Facts

The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration reported that police cars were involved in 5,505,000 car crashes in 2009. Of these crashes, 30,797 resulted in a death, 1,517,000 caused injury, and 3,957,000 damaged property. Most of these accidents happened during high-speed police chases. Police officers often turn on their lights and sirens and expect everyone else to yield. Others do not turn on their lights or sirens, but still drive at high speed. Although this is proper at times, often the police behavior still results in accidents, injury and death to innocent bystanders.

Fighting Back

One problem with police cases is the “blue wall of silence.” Police are very protective of their own. Although 911 calls, dispatch records, police radio recordings and witness reports are a matter of record, these items can be harder to get ahold of if you are pursuing a case against an officer. The police have high-powered lawyers to protect them, so you need to hire an aggressive accident lawyer to combat this. However, if the case is clear-cut, a settlement or judgment should happen fast. If you are judged to have also been at fault, the likelihood of a big payout goes down steeply.

Questionable Tactics

An accident lawyer experienced in police car accident cases can explain local police procedures regarding pursuits. Rules vary by the city, but the police must normally follow traffic laws except in urgent cases, such as forcible felonies. Police often respond with speed in less serious cases unnecessarily. Most jurisdictions have rules about how many police cars can be dispatched as emergency responders, limiting them to two or less to reduce accidents. Still, many police crashes involve other police cars speeding to the scene of a crime without sirens or lights to get around those limits. Bystanders have no idea they need to yield.

Are They Liable?

Police and other emergency vehicles do not have magical immunity to liability when they are at-fault in a crash. Cities budget funds for these cases because they are so common. Only in a few states, such as Washington and Oregon, is it impossible to pursue a personal injury case against the police. An experienced accident lawyer can evaluate your case and determine if you should file a suit for damages. As long as the officer(s) is clearly at fault, the result of such a case will usually be a settlement. This saves the city the cost of a legal battle. Some settlements and judgments have been in the millions.

If you were hurt in a police car accident, get help fast. Do not assume you cannot win, because thousands of others have. You deserve compensation for your injuries. A good accident lawyer can help you win your personal injury accident case. Just remember that when you get into an accident with a police officer you are not automatically at fault. You need to find an experienced accident attorney right away and let them start fighting for you.