Hit By a Police Car in Sacramento: Can I Sue?
Law enforcement officers in Sacramento work hard to protect citizens’ safety. Yet even with professional training, police officers can make serious mistakes on the job. Careless, reckless and distracted driving are examples of police officer negligence that could injure innocent people. If a police car in Sacramento recently struck you as a pedestrian, bicyclist or driver, you may have the right to file a lawsuit.
Determining Fault and Liability
The police are not immune to liability for car accidents in California. They have the same responsibilities as other drivers. Although they may have more leeway when it comes to actions such as running red lights and speeding, they must do so safely and reasonably within the confines of their jobs. An off-duty police officer may not have these rights. If an officer was engaged in negligent or reckless behavior at the time of the accident, he or she could be liable for damages.
- Distracted driving
- Speeding without reason
- Driving under the influence
- Responding to an emergency without lights or sirens
- Wrong-way driving on a one-way street
- Making an illegal U-turn
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
Any negligent action or driver behavior by a police officer, either on-duty or off-duty, could lead to financial responsibility for a crash. As a victim of this type of accident, you or your lawyer will have to prove that the police officer was guilty of negligence and that this negligence caused your damages. An attorney could help you with this burden of proof in Sacramento.
Law Enforcement Exemptions to Traffic Laws
You may only file an injury claim against a police officer for crashing a police car into you if he or she was not properly responding to an emergency at the time of the collision. California Vehicle Code 21055 states that police officers and other first responders are exempt from standard traffic rules if they are responding properly to emergency calls at the time of the collision.
This rule will only apply if the officer was properly using the vehicle’s lights and/or sirens at the time of the accident. If an officer wants to defend against fault allegations for an accident, the officer will have to prove three main things: he or she was driving an emergency vehicle at the time of the collision, responding to an emergency and using a siren or lights, if reasonably necessary.
Even if the police officer fulfills all three requirements, he or she could face liability for recklessness in operating the vehicle. Reckless driving in a way that a reasonable and prudent police officer would not have in the same circumstances could lead to liability for damages. Failing to properly look out for pedestrians, for example, could make the officer accountable for the pedestrian’s injuries or wrongful death.
Filing an Injury or Death Claim Against a Sacramento Police Officer
If you believe a Sacramento police officer negligently or recklessly hit you, speak to a California car accident attorney. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the state or county government. As the employer of the officer, the government could be liable for your damages if the officer was on duty at the time of the accident. You or your lawyer must file a written notice within six months of your accident to file a suit against the government in California.
If an off-duty cop hit you, you may still have grounds to file a claim with his or her personal insurance company. The negligent or reckless police officer could be individually liable for your medical bills, property damages and other losses. An attorney can help you with your filing requirements for either type of claim. You could be eligible for significant compensation after a police car hits you in Sacramento.