Woman Rushed to Hospital After Charleston, West Virginia Police Cruiser Crashes Into Vehicle
An elderly woman in Charleston, WV was hospitalized for injuries after her car was struck by a Charleston area Police Department vehicle. The officer driving was responding to an emergency burglary call, but had neglected to have his lights and siren on while exceeding the speed limit. This could have been due to a number of different legitimate reasons, but the end result was that an innocent woman was seriously injured and later died from those injuries.
The police officer has also reported injuries, and accident reconstructionists are evaluating the black box from the cruiser for accident details.
Police cruisers are susceptible to collisions just as any other vehicle. Sometimes it’s the police vehicle which is hit, as in the case of the drunk driver in Morgantown running into a cruiser, but on rare occasions, it is the police officer who is at fault for the collision.
Can a Police Officer Be Sued for Causing an Accident?
Every year accidents and injury are caused by police officers while in the line of duty. In a recent West Virginia auto collision, a motorcyclist was clipped by a police cruiser in pursuit of another motorist, causing the biker to suffer substantial injuries.
Treatment for injuries is expensive, and lost wages as well as pain and suffering all factor into the amount of recovery that an injured person might receive.
The standard of care an emergency first responder or officer must abide by is the same as any other citizen, except when the officer is in pursuit of another individual. In the latter circumstance, the rules for the operation of his motor vehicle change to allow him to exceed posted speed limits. However, the officer is not permitted to disregard the safety of other motorists.
When a public employee causes a motor vehicle collision, there are special laws that govern the liability of the State and political subdivisions. Generally, state agencies such as the Department of Highways are immune from civil lawsuits except in certain circumstances.
When a police officer causes a collision, it must be determined whether the police department is insured under the State policy. So, an officer can be sued, but there will likely be a limit of insurance coverage available.
WV MetroNews: Elderly woman injured after vehicle struck by Charleston police cruiser, by Jeff Jenkins, January 5, 2017.