You cannot sue a police officer for hitting your car in a police chase in case:
- The police officer uses flashing lights and sirens during it; and,
- The officer drives with “due regard” for others’ safety.
If you have facts that show the police officer drove lacking the “due regard”, then you can probably sue the city under the California Vehicle Code section 17001.
This scenario entails an exception and different exceptions upon one another. To understand them, you have to first understand what a public entity is, and the statute that pertains to it.
- Rule: Public entities are usually immune from suit (Government Code section 815(a)). A city is one example of a public entity.
- Exception: Public entities, though, are liable for their employees’ negligent act as per Government Code section 815.2(a).
- Exception to that Exception: They are immune when the employees are immune too, save as otherwise provided by statute (Government Code section 815.2(b)).
- Another Exception to the Aforementioned One: A city is legally responsible for the negligent driving by a police officer (California Vehicle Code 17001).
The bottom line to this is that it is liable for the negligent act in the case the officer drove sans “due regard” for other people’s safety.
This is the kind of complicated case, which makes a traffic accident lawyer quote George Bernard Shaw: “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” Now, to expand on that, let us dwell on the law enforcement officers and the “due regard” part.
Police officers are public employees, who are usually not immune from suit (Government Code section 820(a)). However, a police officer is immune from liability for property damage or bodily injury caused in the course of a chase (California Vehicle Code section 17004).
The police officer is excused from adhering to certain traffic rules when in pursuit in case he or she is using flashing lights and sirens. The liability cannot be enforced upon him or her for the negligence that arises from running or speeding red lights either in such an instance (California Vehicle Code section 21055). The public employee, however, still has to drive “with due regard for the safety of all persons” (California Vehicle Code section 21056). He or she is not permitted to drive having impunity in mind.