Injury victims and their family members may be able to file personal injury claims or a wrongful death lawsuit if they are struck by a police car. These cases are much more complicated than regular vehicle accident cases, and you may need to speak to a qualified West Virginia car accident attorney to help you through the process.
How do these incidents happen?
Police in West Virginia serve their communities by enforcing state and local laws. However, there are times when police officers practice dangerous driving habits, including the following:
- making illegal turns
- distracted driving
- running red lights and stop signs
- driving the wrong way
- failing to yield the right-of-way
This type of behavior can lead to an accident. Sometimes an officer is responding to a call when an accident occurs, but that does not mean they are free from liability. State law requires that all emergency personnel responding to a call to operate their vehicles with due regard for the safety of all persons using the roadways.
What to do if you are struck by a police officer
You can protect your rights by taking certain steps following a collision with a police car:
- Check on everyone involved for injuries.
- Cal 911 and ask for EMS and police (the officer will likely do this, but you should call as well).
- Do not admit or imply fault for the crash, even if the officer tries to intimidate you. They are now part of the crash, not the responding officer.
- Document the scene if you are able to using a camera or your phone. Take photos of the damage, vehicle license plates, injuries, and more.
- Write down the officer’s name and badge number.
- Get the names and contact information for any eyewitnesses.
- Seek medical treatment for any injuries you have, even if you think they are minor.
- Contact a qualified and experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney.
Filing a claim can be difficult
If it is determined that the police officer was negligent for the car accident, then the public entity the officer works for can be held liable to the injured parties for damages. This could be the state, county, or city government. The damages that the government entity could be on the line for include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle repairs
- And more
If a police officer kills someone in a crash that was caused by their negligence, the agency they work for could be on the line for compensation due to wrongful death. This compensation can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of earnings the deceased would have earned
- Compensation to the family for the loss of their loved one
Do you need an attorney for these cases?
Any time you or someone you love are injured due to another person’s negligence, you should contact an attorney. In cases involving a police vehicle, this is especially important. Proving liability in these cases is vital to receiving compensation. Unfortunately, a police officer and their agency may use their “authority” to try to say you were partially or totally at fault for the crash, even if you were not. Your attorney will conduct their own investigation into the crash to determine what really took place.