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What Happens if a Philadelphia Police Officer Causes an Accident?

Police cruisers blowing through red lights is nothing new. We begrudgingly accept this mild abuse of power – until it causes an accident. When police officers cause accidents, victims often incur devastating and painful injuries.

Thankfully, police officers, like any other motorists, can be held responsible for the crashes they cause. Victims may be compensated for a wide range of damages. However, the path to payment can be highly complicated. A Philadelphia car accident attorney can help potential plaintiffs review their cases and determine the appropriate next steps to take.

Accidents Caused by Police Officers in Philadelphia

When a Philadelphia police officer is involved in a traffic accident, the situation is typically handled according to established procedures and legal protocols. Firstly, it's important to note that police officers, like any other drivers, can be held accountable if they are found to be at fault for causing the accident. The responsibility for the accident will be determined based on the evidence gathered by attorneys and responding officers, which may include eyewitness accounts, accident reconstructions, and any available surveillance footage. If it is determined that the police officer's actions, such as speeding, running a red light, or reckless driving, caused the accident, then they may face criminal penalties and civil liability.

What to Do if a Philadelphia Police Officer Causes an Accident

It may be difficult to keep your composure after suffering an accident involving a Philadelphia police officer. Still, taking the following actions can help expedite your recovery and enhance your chances at recovering compensation for your injuries:

Stay at the Scene and Call 911

In the aftermath of an accident caused by a Philadelphia police officer, your first priority is to remain at the scene and ensure the safety of all individuals involved. This includes checking for injuries and calling 911 immediately if anyone requires medical attention. Safety should be the primary concern, and this applies to both the victims and police officers.

Seek Medical Attention

After any accident, it's essential to seek medical attention, even if injuries appear minor initially. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately, and a delay in seeking medical care can potentially weaken your case. Additionally, a medical record that links your injuries directly to the accident is essential for documenting the extent of your injuries and their treatment.

Gather Evidence

Collecting evidence is a critical step in building a strong case. When dealing with an accident involving a police officer, it's even more crucial because of the potential complexities of such cases. Beyond the basic information like the officer's badge number and name, you should take photographs of the accident scene from various angles, focusing on vehicle damage, road conditions, and any visible injuries. Additionally, gather contact information from any witnesses who were present at the scene. This comprehensive evidence will be invaluable when pursuing compensation.

Contact an Attorney

Hiring an attorney who has experience with handling cases involving law enforcement is highly recommended. They can provide expert guidance on navigating the legal process, as well as a thorough evaluation of your case's strengths and weaknesses. They will also act as your advocate, ensuring your rights are protected and helping you pursue the compensation you deserve.

Determine Liability

Determining liability is a central component of obtaining compensation for your injuries. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the accident. This may involve reviewing traffic laws, interviewing witnesses, and scrutinizing the actions of the police officer. Establishing whether the officer's actions were negligent or in violation of any laws is crucial in establishing liability.

Negotiate with Insurance

In many cases, compensation for injuries resulting from an accident caused by a police officer may come from the officer's insurance or the police department's insurance. Your attorney will take the lead in negotiating with the relevant insurance company on your behalf. Their goal is to secure a fair settlement that covers your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other losses resulting from the accident.

Consider Legal Action

If negotiations with the insurance company do not lead to a satisfactory resolution, your attorney may advise you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. This legal action will involve presenting your case in court and seeking a judgment in your favor. Litigation can be a complex process, but it may be necessary to ensure that you receive adequate payment for your injuries and losses.

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