Can I sue a police officer, police department, state agency, or city for damages if they caused an accident?
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 public agency or political subdivision can be sued, the claim is limited to a modest insurance coverage limit. 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 on insurance coverage available.
WHO CAN I SUE IF A POLICE OFFICER CAUSED MY INJURY?
Of course, we all understand the need to call the sheriff, city police, or state police if we are involved in a serious accident on a motorcycle, car, or truck. But, what can you do if the collision was caused by a local police officer or WV state trooper?
Every year accidents and injuries 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 substantial injury to the rider.
It was an unintended collision, and the policeman was just doing his job, but this injured biker now is suffering from injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and may be facing surgery and therapy in the future to gain a more full recovery after the accident. This is all going to be very expensive. Who is going to pay?
WHAT TYPE OF DAMAGES CAN BE RECOVERED AFTER A CAR OR MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT?
Accident victims can be compensated for economic damages: actual dollar losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and lost future income earning ability. Pain, suffering, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and grief over the loss of a loved one are some of the non-economic losses for which a person may receive compensation. Punitive damages are also awarded in rare cases which serve to punish a defendant for extreme negligence and serve to deter future similar conduct by that defendant and others (such as in an NC case where the police officer caused a collision due to road rage incident).
Recently another lawsuit was filed in WV where a man is suing the West Virginia State Police for injuries he sustained in a car accident caused by one of its state troopers.
A West Virginia State Trooper negligently struck the front left side of the plaintiff’s vehicle and caused him to veer off the road and strike an electric pole. The plaintiff claims as a result of the defendant’s negligence and carelessness, he sustained damages and injuries, including broken ribs, a permanent back injury, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
Contact Our West Virginia Personal Injury Law Firm
Because of the complexity involved in crashes directly involving police vehicles, it is imperative you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to find all applicable insurance coverage and have an advocate on your side to fight for your right to compensation for your injuries.
If you have questions about a West Virginia traffic incident, Attorney Jeff Robinette would be glad to answer your questions. Call today: 304-381-5814.
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.