If you or your loved one were injured in a car accident involving a police officer, you may feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place. Most people understand that police officers enjoy a certain level of immunity from civil liability in Georgia. This means that they cannot be sued for any accidents or injuries that occur while they’re acting within the scope of their employment. For example, if a police officer engages in a high speed chase with a criminal and ends up crashing into somebody, they will not be civilly liable for damages. The rationale is that the police officer is looking out for the public safety and will take whatever reasonable measures they can to fulfill that duty. If, however, your Augusta car accident lawyer can prove that the officer was not on duty at the time of the accident, then you will have several options.
Your Augusta Car Accident Lawyer May be Able to Sue the Police Officer Directly
As long as you can prove that the police officer who hit you was not on duty at the time of the crash, there is no reason why you cannot sue them personally for damages. This would be handled the same way any other personal injury lawsuit is handled. Your Augusta car accident lawyer would first file a claim against the other driver’s insurance carrier. If they refuse to pay the claim, or if their policy doesn’t cover all of your damages, then your accident attorney in Georgia will sue the other driver. They will file a complaint with the local civil court and demand that you be compensated for your injuries.
Once your complaint is filed, the defendant will have 30 days to file their response. More than likely, the defendant in this case would file a response declaring that they are immune from civil liability because their police officer. This is when your Augusta car accident lawyer will earn their stripes. They will need to submit the necessary evidence to show the court that the defendant was not on duty and that they were driving their personal vehicle at the time of the crash.
At a Minimum, Your Accident Attorney in Georgia Can File a Claim Against Their Insurance
Even if your Augusta car accident lawyer can’t prove that the police officer was off duty at the time of the accident, you can still file a claim against their insurance carrier. The police department itself, or the county, must maintain insurance for situations like this. This would be no different than if a commercial truck driver crashed into you while they were making a delivery. You would file a claim against their employer’s insurance carrier and hope that it’s paid. If that didn’t work, you would then file an insurance claim against the driver’s own insurance policy.
The same thing is true if you were hit by a police officer. Sometimes, as long as your claim is not very large, the insurance carrier will just pay your claim. It may cost them a lot more to fight it than it would to just pay it out. This is what your accident attorney in Georgia is banking on. Of course, if it doesn’t work, you still have other options.
It is Critical That the Police Officer be Off-Duty at the Time of the Crash
Whether you can pursue the police officer directly for damages will hinge on whether you can prove that they were off duty at the time of the accident. One way to do this is to demonstrate that the officer was not in a patrol car at the time of the crash. If they were driving their personal vehicle, they would be hard-pressed to argue that they were on duty at the time of the accident. However, there are other ways that your Augusta car accident lawyer can prove this.
Police departments must maintain very detailed records of when each police officer is on duty. They do this for a variety of reasons. First, their insurance carriers demand that they keep meticulous records showing when each officer began and ended their shifts. Second, the police department needs to protect themselves legally as far as any counterclaims filed by criminal defendants. What this means is that your accident attorney in Georgia should have no problem proving whether the defendant was on the clock at the time of the accident.
You Can Trust That Your Augusta Car Accident Lawyer Will Do Their Best to Get You Damages
Nine times out of ten, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident with a police officer in Georgia, you will not be able to sue them personally for damages. This is because members of law enforcement, for the most part, are immune from civil liability. This is the case number in almost every state. It is not just in Georgia that they enjoy this protection. However, if your accident attorney in Georgia can prove that the officer was not on duty at the time of the accident, that’s another story entirely.
As explained here, you will have several options as far as pursuing the other driver for damages. Obviously, the first thing that you and your Augusta car accident lawyer will want to do is file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. Ideally, your claim will be paid in full and there won’t be any further issues. However, if the insurance company denies your claim, your only option will be to sue the officer directly. The only way you can do this is if your attorney can prove that they were in fact off duty at the time of the crash.
These are important questions and the answers to them will determine whether you will receive compensation for your injuries. This is why we recommend that you contact our office and schedule your free, initial consultation. Our Augusta car accident lawyers have decades of combined experience handling cases just like this. They will do whatever they can to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Our firm does not charge its clients anything upfront to handle their case. This means that it’s in your best interest to at least meet with one of our accident attorneys in Georgia.