When you have been involved in a car accident, the first thing you want to do is call 911 for medical and police assistance. What happens if the other vehicle involved in the crash is a police car?
Do not be intimidated – police officers do not have more rights than the average driver if they cause an automobile accident. However, as with any situation involving an accident between a privately owned and government vehicle, the law is a bit different.
Sovereign Immunity Laws
Governments are immune from certain lawsuits, but in Pennsylvania, the state’s Sovereign Immunity Act does not prevent injured parties from suing when the driver at fault in a motor vehicle accident was a policeman on duty, or any other official driving a government vehicle.
When you are involved in a car accident with a police vehicle, time is of the essence, and it is not on your side. Under Pennsylvania law, an injured party must send written notice of the claim to the police department involved within six months of the automobile accident.
The written notice must include the name and address of the injured party, the date, location and time of the accident, and the name and address of any doctor treating the injured party. If the notice is not sent within the six month timeframe, any later lawsuit the claimant tries to file is dismissed.
Limited Monetary Damages
Pennsylvania law limits the damages that the injured party can receive from the local government overseeing the police department. Currently, government liability is just $250,000 per claimant in an accident, with a total of $1 million for all claimants involved in the crash.
What to Do If You Have an Accident with a Police Car
Although the law differs as to the process for suing a government entity, that is not your first thought after the accident occurs. In many ways, you must act in the same manner as you would if a civilian car hit you.
First, make sure you receive medical attention, even if you do not think you are injured. Many types of injuries, including whiplash, do not appear for 24 hours or more. If you fail to seek medical help, the government’s insurer may claim your injuries did not arise from the car accident.
If you are able, get the names and contact information for witnesses, and take photos or videos of the accident scene with your phone. A police officer will respond to the crash scene, and you should give the officer a detailed report of what happened, as far as you know.
Because of the tight deadlines regarding claims against government entities, you should call a Chester County personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. While it is always important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident, when a police car is involved it is especially crucial.
Governments tend to protect their own, so you need someone representing your interests in a case against a police department.
Chester County Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Assist Injured Pennsylvanians
If you or a loved one are seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need the services of the experienced Chester County car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free case consultation.
We serve clients in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, Chester County and Delaware County.