In general, police vehicles may disregard traffic laws when officers activate their vehicle’s emergency lights and siren. Even when responding to an emergency call, they are bound to obey all traffic laws. What if a police car gets involved in a collision with a civilian motorist? Who is liable for resulting injuries?
CBS Atlanta reported that an Atlanta police car was involved in a motor vehicle collision with a minivan that killed a 57-year-old passenger and seriously injured another as well as the driver of the van. According to investigators, the police officer was responding to a call when the minivan driver tried to turn onto Beeler Drive onto the officer’s path.
According to the Atlanta Police Department, the minivan’s driver and rear passenger sustained serious injuries and were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Aaron Brown, Sr. died at the scene. The officer did not appear to have serious injuries but was taken the hospital. Investigators said it is not yet clear whether the officer had activated his emergency lights and siren before the crash occurred.
Liability for Injuries in Traffic Accidents Involving Police Cars
It is common to see police vehicles exceed the speed limit and make turns that would normally entail traffic violations. The fact is that police officers responding to calls are not held to the same standard of obedience to traffic laws because denying them leeway may make it difficult to effectively perform their functions. However, this privilege may also cause accidents. When an injury or death occurs, the first question that comes to mind is who will be liable for the victim’s injuries.
Georgia is a no-fault state when it comes to liability and insurance coverage. It uses a tort system–a fault system, in which the driver at fault is liable for personal injuries. To seek compensation, injured victims may file claims through their own insurance companies, who will later seek compensation from the insurers of the at-fault drivers. Victims may also make claims directly from the at-fault drivers’ insurers or file civil lawsuits when settlement efforts fail. If the driver of the minivan violated traffic rules, then his passengers may pursue a claim against him or his insurance company.
Reports said that it’s unclear whether the police officer had activated his emergency lights and siren at the time of the crash. This is a very important issue as officers are required to turn on emergency lights and sirens when responding to a call. If the officer failed to do so, he may be partially or fully responsible for the crash and the victims may seek damages from the government. A personal injury claim can help crash victims seek compensation for their injuries regardless of the party at fault.