Can I Sue an Officer for Personal Injury?

Police Officer Causes an Accident

It’s startling when a police officer causes an accident. You might imagine that they’re exceptionally skilled defensive and assertive drivers. That’s often true. However, when you’re managing the dispatch system, mapping out your course to your next call, and weaving through traffic with sirens blazing, there’s a lot going on. Police don’t cause accidents often, but it does happen.

When you’re in a crash with a police officer, they may not pull over if it’s an emergency. Generally, you don’t have to worry so much. State agencies and local police departments all have systems in place to ensure that anyone hurt or hit by an officer in a crash is taken care of. But how can you access that help? A personal injury lawyer in Tampa, FL may be able to help with that.

Tampa Police Department Insurance

You technically wouldn’t file a claim against the police department directly. Instead, you would file against the city. The city of Tampa is self-insured, meaning that they maintain insurance programs independently. Those programs allow them to process claims and manage losses created by city officials. In this case, those city officials include the Tampa officers.

When a cop hits your vehicle, it is most likely that they were “on-the-clock,” but there are other requirements. The claim must also have happened within the city limits or included property of the City of Tampa. That property would be the police cruiser, even if the crash happened outside the city limits.

However, that doesn’t mean that this process is easy. Because of PIP and Florida’s no-fault system, you will need to contact your insurance. You shouldn’t expect your rates to increase because of a crash that wasn’t your fault. Your insurance company will go through and contact the city of Tampa for reimbursement.

Immunity in Car Accidents and Apprehension

In some regions, if a police officer causes an accident they will have immunity from fault, especially during apprehension. That immunity only comes in when the officers were following all their policies and meeting the city’s expectations.

Car accidents happen, and many people get into accidents when they’re on the clock. Truckers, service people, and police officers spend a lot of their time working behind the wheel. When you look at immunity, it doesn’t mean that you can’t file a claim. This type of immunity, however, doesn’t serve much purpose in Florida.

Because Florida is among the few states that have a no-fault system, they have many situations that seem redundant. The no-fault system means that everyone’s insurance pays for their own damages. So why would fault matter at all with the police officer and their immunity? It is possible to sue an individual, or even the city, in rare situations.

Those rare situations require looking at fault, determining the cause, and identifying who should pay. When you have excessive damages, or pain and suffering, that would require filing an individual lawsuit rather than going through the city.

Suing an Individual Versus the City

Suing an individual is risky, and in Florida, it doesn’t often result in much. There’s also the matter of vicarious liability. Police officers are employees and their employer, the police department and the city are responsible for their actions. Now suing the city might be something worth considering.

For example, a tight pursuit policy is in place. Since about 2014, police officers are not permitted to initiate a chase for certain crimes such as burglary without a weapon. If the officer was in pursuit, a high-speed pursuit, for something that didn’t warrant it, then they were not following standard procedure.

Finding out whether you need to sue the individual, or sue the city requires speaking to an attorney. Your insurance company won’t suggest that you pursue legal action against anyone, they can’t. Their only purpose is to help you get compensation to cover medical bills and property damage. But that is all they will cover.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney if a Police Officer Causes an Accident

Whether it was bad decisions or poor driving habits, it is possible to hold a civil servant responsible for their actions. Now, if they were going about their job or acting in response to an emergency, you may not have that option. For example, if a police officer causes an accident by going through an intersection with their lights on, that’s a different story. But, if someone approached you and used excessive force, then you may have a case.

To learn more about your situation and whether you have a case, contact our personal injury law office in Tampa. The law offices in Tampa for Winters & Yonker can explain why you do or don’t have the opportunity to recover your damages or losses from the interaction.

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