What Happens If a Police Car Hits Your Car?

Written by Jobeth Bowers. Posted in .

Key Takeaways:

  • Car accident cases involving government employees have different rules for liability and reporting.
  • After an auto accident with a cop, you should generally pursue the same actions as you would in a normal accident, such as getting the contact information of the other driver and gathering evidence at the accident scene if you are able.
  • In most cases, a lawsuit regarding a car crash with a cop will not hold the cop personally liable but will target the department they work for.
  • Police are always expected to exercise reasonable care toward others on the road, but they are exempt from standard traffic laws in certain cases, such as when they are responding to an emergency or carrying out law enforcement duties.

Car accidents can be difficult to deal with no matter who is involved, but if you are hit by a cop, the situation can become significantly more complicated. Accidents with government vehicles, including police cars, are handled differently from typical car accidents, so dealing with these cases without legal aid is especially risky. You may find yourself missing out on valuable compensation that is needed for your recovery.

If you are in an accident with a police officer in Maryland, there are specific guidelines to follow when pursuing compensation. Take a closer look at how an experienced Maryland car accident attorney can help you fight for your rights and navigate the legal complexities of a collision with a government vehicle.

A Police Officer Hit My Car. What Do I Do?

While there are important differences when accidents involve government vehicles, what to do after an accident works largely the same way as a traditional car accident. For example, you will need to get contact information from the officer involved in the accident, and you should take photos of vehicle damage and personal injuries that occurred in the accident.

In the wake of an accident, you will still need to call emergency services as you would in any other accident to get a police report of the incident. Remember, the cop who hit you cannot write their own report of the accident. In fact, most cases will warrant an accident report written up by someone from a completely different department or government entity from the officer personally involved in the accident.

One of the important differences between traditional accidents and accidents with a police car is that you will not have a case if you are hit by a police car when their siren and lights are on and they are responding to an emergency.

Additionally, you have a shorter period of time to report that you intend to take legal action against a government employee (the cop who hit you) than you would another driver who is not a government employee. With the shortened time frame, it is especially important to get an experienced attorney involved as soon as possible.

Who is Responsible for Damages When a Cop Causes a Car Accident?

While the officer may be responsible for the damages, they are not always the target of a lawsuit. In fact, officers often get personal immunity from any lawsuits from the accident, so you would instead have to target the agency they work for, which could be a police department or state patrol. A skilled car accident attorney can guide you through this process.

When is a Police Officer Exempt From Following Traffic Laws?

In some instances, police officers are exempt from abiding by traditional traffic laws, though even then they are expected to exercise reasonable care. The following are some examples of when cops do not have to obey traffic laws.

  • Emergency response: Any situation in which an officer is responding to an emergency can qualify, whether they are pursuing a suspect or providing urgent aid. During these cases, police officers are permitted to violate certain traffic laws such as running red lights and exceeding speed limits, though they still must be conscious of public safety in their maneuvers.
  • Traffic control: Police often have the authority to control traffic in certain situations, such as special events or difficult intersections, during specific time periods. Officers can override traffic signals and direct traffic themselves, and they are not expected to abide by general traffic rules during these duties. Of course, they are still expected to direct traffic safely.
  • Official duties: This general category can encompass a range of actions, including conducting traffic stops, enforcing traffic laws on others, and pursuing suspects. Generally, police are allowed to make U-turns whenever they want.

Damages You Can Recover After an Accident With a Maryland Police Car

After an accident with a Maryland police car, you may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are damages that are easily quantifiable with a clear dollar amount value, while non-economic damages are a bit more abstract.

Economic Damages

  • Medical bills: You may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses resulting from car accident injuries. This includes hospital bills, doctor’s visits, medication costs, and rehabilitation costs such as physical therapy.
  • Property damage: Any damage your vehicle suffered in the accident may be covered. This includes repair costs for your vehicle, but it can also be the fair market value of your vehicle if it is deemed a complete loss that cannot be repaired.
  • Lost wages: Lost wages are the wages you would have been able to earn if you had not been injured in the accident. If your injury impacts your ability to do your job, it is especially important to consider the financial impact of lost wages.

Non-Economic Damages

  • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is a general concept representing both physical and emotional suffering due to the accident. Because these damages are subjective, it is important to work with a lawyer to properly document their severity and long-term impact.
  • Loss of consortium: Loss of consortium happens when the accident negatively affects a relationship with a spouse or family member. This can include cases in which the relationship irrevocably changed between you and your loved one.

Maryland Damage Caps on Accidents Caused by Government Employees

The Maryland Tort Claims Act puts a cap on how much compensation you can receive from a lawsuit levied against a government employee. The cap on compensation, according to Maryland law, is $400,000 per victim and $800,000 per accident. If you are in the car alone and are the only victim, the cap is strictly set at $400,000. This cap may be lowered if the office is responding to an emergency with lights and sirens activated. Being able to determine the difference is a crucial factor in why hiring an attorney is so important!

Why Clients Choose Bowers Law

Clients choose Bowers Law because we are more than lawyers. We are your neighbors who have been helping people just like you throughout Cecil County and Maryland get their deserved compensation after a car accident. Instead of focusing on simply winning, we strive to maximize the settlement money for our clients and educate them on how to safeguard that money. From our perspective, we don’t succeed unless you succeed. Take a look at what some of our previous clients had to say about our services.

Testimonials

“I was recently involved in a car accident and a friend insisted I contact Bowers Law. The entire team helped me navigate what would have been a very complicated and overwhelming situation. They made the entire process easy and educated me on what was happening along the way. I’m so glad I contacted them. Jobeth Bowers is the person you want on your side if you are involved in an accident!” — Dimi M.

“Bowers Law is the greatest law firm you could ever have to help assist you in any case. They are consistent, kind, positive, and outstanding.” — Lexie K.

Protecting Your Interests When the Police Cause an Accident

If you are involved in an accident with a police car, seek legal advice from the professionals at Bowers Law. As members of the local community, we understand the value of keeping our neighbors safe, protecting their legal rights, and seeking monetary reimbursement when they are involved in an accident. Text or call our team today at 667-220-6500 or by filling out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Frequent Answered Questions

What if My Car Was Hit by a Police Car During a Chase?

If the cop who hit you did so while involved in a police chase, they may be exempt from liability for damages. This can make it more difficult to collect compensation for any injuries suffered, so it is important to work with a Maryland car accident lawyer to understand your options.

What is the Statute of Limitations for an Accident With a Police Car?

If you are involved in an accident with a police vehicle, you have a short window of time to file an injury claim. This window is much shorter than the traditional three-year statute of limitations for Maryland accidents. It is important to file as soon as possible in case other unique factors are at play. That is why you should get in touch with a lawyer after your accident as soon as you can to begin working on your accident claim.

Jobeth Bowers

Written By Jobeth Bowers

Maryland Attorney Jobeth Bowers is the founder of Bowers Law and a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law

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