Any Hope of Compensation for Patrol Car Accident Victims?
Pedestrians may be able to recover compensation if a civilian vehicle caused the patrol car accident.
A few weeks ago, a traffic accident involving an LA County Sheriff’s Department patrol car resulted in serious injuries and one death. Now, some may wonder if the civilians involved in the accident have any hope for compensation.
The accident took place as two Sheriff’s deputies were responding to a domestic violence call with sirens and lights on. Their patrol car clipped the rear of another vehicle, then jumped the curb and hit two pedestrians. One of the deputies was actually trapped inside the patrol car and had to be rescued by the fire department.
Both Sheriff’s deputies and both pedestrians were hospitalized with serious injuries. One of the pedestrians later died at the hospital.
Who Is Liable?
If this was just your average traffic accident involving two civilian vehicles, one of the drivers would surely be liable for the pedestrians’ injuries. However, because a law enforcement vehicle was involved, things have the potential to become more complicated.
Emergency vehicles—including patrol cars—have a certain degree of sovereign immunity from accidents that may occur as they are going about their business. This is especially true if the vehicle is responding to a call with lights flashing and sirens wailing. The driver of the vehicle is allowed to speed and run lights, and while they are still expected to exercise reasonable care with respect to public safety, the standard for this reasonable care is lower. It is therefore extremely difficult to prove that an emergency vehicle driver was acting recklessly and should be liable for a car accident.
However, in this particular case the pedestrians and their families do not necessarily have to give up hope of holding someone liable for their suffering and receiving appropriate compensation. It is possible that the vehicle that was clipped by the patrol car was actually at fault for the accident. This vehicle should have yielded to the patrol car since its lights and siren were on. If it did not, the driver could end up having to provide compensation to the injured pedestrians. The California Highway Patrol’s investigators are currently looking into this possibility.
Injured in an Accident Involving an Emergency Vehicle?
As this case shows, if you are injured in a car accident involving an emergency vehicle, securing compensation can be difficult—but not necessarily impossible. For expert help with your case, be sure to consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney like Fernando D. Vargas right away.