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What If You Have Been Hit by a Police Vehicle in Illinois?

 Posted on June 17, 2024 in Car Accidents

IL injury lawyerAlthough police officers are probably more carefully trained drivers than the rest of us, unexpected crashes can occur. Whether the police car is involved in a high-speed pursuit, an emergency response situation, or is distracted during a routine patrol, an officer can accidentally collide with another vehicle. If you were hit by an on-duty police officer driving a police vehicle, the process you would follow is a bit different than for a "normal" accident.

Since many government entities self-insure for accidents, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Under the Illinois Tort Claims Act, you must submit a notice of your claim to the Attorney General and Clerk of the Court of Claims within one year of the accident or file the lawsuit with the Court of Claims within one year.  Your Illinois injury lawyer can ensure your claim is filed within the allotted time while answering any questions you may have.

Are Police Officers Exempt from Charges?

You may hear the term "qualified immunity" as you attempt to collect damages after being hit by a police officer. Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that shields government employees (like police officers) from personal liability if they were involved in their official duties at the time of the collision. Challenging qualified immunity requires a highly experienced attorney who can show that the officer’s actions exceeded the scope of immunity.

The facts of the case, such as whether the officer was responding to a call, will be important. Police officers engaged in the execution or enforcement of the law are only liable for an accident if their actions were "willful and wanton" or the officer showed an "utter indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others."

So, what if the officer makes a U-turn in the street and slams into your vehicle? In the Illinois case of Stehlik v. Village of Orland Park, an appellate court upheld the original court’s decision, finding that the officer who made a U-turn and hit another driver was on duty and that his actions at the time could be considered reasonable. This left the injured plaintiffs with no recourse for damages. Since every case is different, do not assume that you do not have a valid claim until you have spoken to a personal injury lawyer.   

What Is the Process for a Claim Against the Police Department?

There is one similarity between an auto accident with another driver and an auto accident with a police officer. This lies in what you do after the accident, which includes:

  • Stay calm
  • Call 911
  • Check for injuries
  • Get medical attention if you are injured
  • Take photos with your cell phone at the scene
  • When another police officer arrives, answer questions politely
  • Contact your insurance company
  • Call an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney as soon as possible

You may wonder whether the police report will accurately reflect the officer’s liability in the accident. This is why you need a strong legal advocate, so you are not going up against the police department on your own. It is normal to feel intimidated but remember that neither the police officer who hit you nor the police officer filling out the report gets to decide fault—that is up to a court, based on evidence.

Contact an Orland Park Personal Injury Lawyer

Filing a lawsuit against a police officer is challenging. Having an attorney on your side who is experienced in this area is essential. The  Orland Park personal injury lawyers at Issa Law, LLC can help you proceed with a personal injury claim against the city by proving liability and ensuring the statutes of limitations are not exceeded. Contact Issa Law, LLCat 708-966-2408 to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can answer your questions and guide you through the legal process.  

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