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What to Do if You’ve Been Hit by a Police Car in an Accident

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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If a police car has hit you in an accident, you will need the help of a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Making claims against the police has its own complications that we can help you navigate.

Fortunately, much of the process on your end is the same. You’ll still need to call 911, make a report, seek medical attention, and contact your own insurer to make a claim on your no-fault insurance. The real challenges come if you have to sue the police.

Why Would the Police Hit My Vehicle?

The police sometimes have to break traffic rules to perform their duties, like when chasing a criminal. There are laws that allow them to do this if the circumstances allow it. However, any sort of chase puts the public in danger of accidents.

Chases aren’t the only reason the police could hit you. Anyone driving faces the risk of hitting someone on the road. However, police are sometimes exempt from liability in crashes depending on what was happening.

The police do not carry standard automotive insurance. Instead, they are covered by their municipality or the state. To make a claim against them, you’ll have to follow their procedures. This is best handled by your lawyer since they will know all the rules.  The most important of these rules requires that a Notice of Claim be filed within 90 days of the accident.  In many instances, failure to file such a Notice will result in the dismissal of your claim.

When Do the Police Have No Liability in a Crash?

In general, the liability of police is lowered or removed when they are responding to an emergency. If their lights and sirens are on and they hit you, it will be harder to sue them because they have good cause to say they were in an emergency.

Sometimes police can still dodge liability, even if their lights and sirens are off. They could be trying to avoid attention while responding to a situation. Your lawyer can inquire with the police station and dispatchers to see what the officers were doing at the time of the accident.

Even though these exemptions are there, we can still hold police officers accountable if their emergency maneuvers are too dangerous and cause crashes. Your personal injury lawyer can help reconstruct what happened and argue for compensation for you if it seems the police went too far.  Every case is unique.  Speak to an experienced lawyer to protect your rights.

The 90-Day Rule in New York Police Crashes

One important reason to speak with a personal injury attorney after an officer hits you is the 90-day rule. Under New York law, you have to report a lawsuit against a municipality or the state within 90 days of the incident.

This deadline, also known as a statute of limitations, is far shorter than the usual 3-year deadline for personal injury claims. You do not have time to waste. Fortunately, all your lawyer has to do is notify them by this time frame.

After we have notified them, you’ll have a year and 90 days since the accident to decide if you need to sue the city. However, if you don’t notify them in time, then you could lose all rights to compensation from the city. You’d have to settle for what you can get from your PIP coverage.

Other types of police liability may arise if the police vehicle strikes and injures a pedestrian or causes a chain collision that results in multiple injuries. The central challenge in every police-involved accident is a careful and thorough investigation as soon as possible after the accident that relies less on the police department’s own internal investigation which seeks to exonerate their own officers and more on unbiased witnesses and evidence.  If you have been injured in a police vehicle accident follow this simple advice:

  • Request that a police report be completed
  • Call 911 even if the officer encourages you not to obtain medical attention
  • Obtain the names of all witnesses 
  • Take photographs
  • Do not post on social media about the accident or your injuries
  • Follow all medical advice
  • Call a lawyer immediately to discuss your rights

What if I Hit the Officer’s Car?

If you’re the one who seems to be more at fault, the process is still the same as if you’ve been hit by a police car in an accident. Thanks to New York’s pure comparative fault law, you may still recover compensation beyond your PIP insurance so long as you’re not 100% at fault. 

You’ll still need to notify the police of your suit in 90 days and find out if the officer was involved in an emergency or not. To learn more about filing a claim, reach out to Dansker & Aspromonte Associates LLP as soon as possible.  Our lawyers have been fighting for the rights of injury victims since 1988.  If we accept your case, you will not be required to pay us any money upfront.  We only earn a legal fee when you recover compensation from injury lawyers.

Call or text (212) 732-2929 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form

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