According to data from an analysis performed at the University of Washington, there are approximately 300 deaths in the United States each year attributed to police pursuits gone awry. Car accidents happen each day in the United States; however, many individuals already find it difficult getting compensation for their accidents. This process is often even more challenging when it involves law enforcement and a police vehicle. Nonetheless, police officers are not above traffic laws, and victims of police car accidents are still eligible to take legal action.
Since this process is more challenging, police car accident victims are encouraged to contact a lawyer. When a car accident involves a law enforcement vehicle, it is often more difficult to determine who is liable. A car accident lawyer can help advocate for a victim and ensure that they receive their entitled compensation for any damages that resulted from the accident, including medical bills, lost wages, vehicular damage, and any mental or emotional losses.
The Prevalence of High-Speed Chases and Police Accidents
Sometimes, police officers engage in a high-speed chase in order to gain custody of a suspect. During this encounter, however, they may fail to take caution of others on the road. This lack of caution can heighten the risk of a car accident, which can lead to severe personal injury or even fatalities. This is such a problem that research found that two-thirds of high-speed chase victims are innocent drivers or pedestrians. This may prompt an individual to wonder whether a law enforcement agent should be held accountable for their reckless driving.
A police officer should not have to put the public at risk while pursuing a suspect in a high-speed chase. They should pursue a suspect only when it does not put others at harm and when the offense is a punishable felony. Law enforcement should not put others in danger for a minor or non-violent offense. Many experts believe that officers should receive training on the risks of a high-speed chase and when to determine whether it is safe to pursue a suspect.
Who is Liable for an Accident Involving a Police Car?
When a police car is involved in a car accident, it is often more challenging to determine liability. This is because police officers are exempt from some laws on certain occasions, such as in an emergency. For instance, if a driver gets in an accident because they failed to pull over while the police officer was responding to an emergency, the liability may fall on the driver. Police officers are also exempt from laws against speeding or running red lights if they respond to an emergency. Therefore, they are not liable in these specific instances.
However, even police officers have a duty of care to others on the road while they are driving. Even during a high-speed chase, police need to stay cautious of others. In fact, there are many states that enforce this through law. For instance, Pennsylvania has a code called the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes that sets policies and considerations for police officers to follow during a high-speed chase in order to keep the public safe. If they fail to follow this code, the police officer will likely be held liable for the car accident.
Law enforcement agents also have the same duty of care as other drivers when it comes to negligent or reckless driving. Unless there is an emergency, police officers should not speed or run red lights. They should not be driving distracted, such as texting and driving. If a car accident is caused by a police officer’s negligence, such as driving while under the influence, they are liable for the accident. To ensure that the police officer is held liable for their actions or inactions, the victim should contact a car accident lawyer. A car accident lawyer will work alongside the victim to determine whether a police officer broke their duty of care while driving. If so, the lawyer will advocate that their client receives total compensation for all of the losses sustained from the accident, including both financial and emotional losses.
What Should I Do after Getting in an Accident Involving a Police Car?
After a car accident, the victim should ensure that the other driver and themself did not face severe injury. If they are both okay, the police officer will likely dispatch another officer to visit the scene of the accident. From there, the police officer will begin filing a police report. It is crucial that the victim obtains a copy of this police report for their own record. Having this police report can help to provide evidence of negligence or recklessness of the police car driver. This can ultimately help the victim and their lawyer prove liability to prevail in the case.
The victim should also try to collect other evidence after the accident, including photos of the scene and any vehicular damage. This can also help to provide clarity and paint a narrative of the details that led to the accident. Another way a victim can provide clarity of the scene is to take note of the weather, road conditions, traffic patterns, and lighting at the time of the accident. To prove liability, the victim should also get the contact information of any potential witnesses to the accident.
Victims are also encouraged to get medical attention either immediately after the accident or shortly after. This is important for two reasons. First, it ensures that the victim did not sustain any injuries that they may have missed. This is especially important after an accident because many people do not feel symptoms of their injuries because of shock or adrenaline that occurs after an accident. Victims who suffer from hidden serious injuries can quickly get diagnosed and get put on a treatment regimen to solve the issue. Second, if the victim did sustain any injuries, seeking medical attention helps to document those injuries. This is helpful for legal purposes and proves that the victim suffered from damages as a result of the accident. Victims who suffer from visible injuries should take photos for their record.
Finally, a victim of a police car accident should contact a lawyer. Getting compensation for a regular car accident is already challenging for most drivers. However, this legal process can become even more daunting if the accident involves law enforcement. An experienced car accident lawyer can help to ensure that their client gets their entitled compensation while proving liability. This will help to ensure that victims get the money they need to take care of any expenses related to the accident while holding the law enforcement agent accountable.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for Car Accident Victims Hit by a Police Car
If you or a loved one have sustained damages as a result of a car accident involving a police car, contact the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. The job of a police officer is to keep others safe. When they engage in a high-speed chase that leads to the injury or death of an innocent individual, they should be held liable for their actions. Law enforcement agents are not above the law. Our lawyers help to get justice for our victims while also ensuring that they receive their entitled compensation for medical bills, lost wages, vehicular damage, or any emotional damages such as pain and suffering. Call us today at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Chester County, Pennsylvania, Wilmington, Delaware, and New Jersey.