What to Do in a Car Accident Involving a Police Car

Here’s how to handle an accident involving a police car.


police car accident
An accident with a police car requires a special response.

Dealing with the fall out of a car accident, whether it’s your fault or not, is stressful for anyone. If you’re in a car accident involving a police car? That amps up the stress quite a bit. Fortunately, much of what you would do in the event of any other car accident holds true.

The main difference lies in making sure you hire a car accident lawyer. Many “traditional” car accidents are minor enough that there’s no need to get attorneys involved, but that’s never the case when the accident involves a police car.

Why are things so different?

In a traditional personal injury case related to a vehicle accident, you deal with an auto insurance policy. But, police cars aren’t covered under standard auto insurance. They’re covered under the self-insurance many government entities use to protect themselves in the event of an accident. That means the claims process is different compared to other auto accidents – and that’s why an experienced lawyer is vital.

Regardless of the situation, you should:

  1. Get to a safe place.
  2. Check for injuries.
  3. Call 911 to report the accident.
  4. Document the accident and collect information. You’ll want to document things such as:
    1. A detailed description of what happened, including the time and place of the accident
    2. Names of the people involved. Get the police officer’s information at the scene.
    3. Evidence of the damages and loss. If you’re able and it is safe to do so, take photographs at the scene – of your vehicle and any others involved.
    4. Witness statements – generally the police who respond to the call will take statements from any witnesses who remain at the scene.
  5. Seek the appropriate level of medical care for any injuries. Even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt, it’s always a good idea to go get checked out as soon as possible.
    1. Keep copies of everything, including a list of all the medical professionals you see and what you see them for. Even if the extent of your injuries is minor, you’ll still have bills to pay as a result of the crash.
  6. Contact your insurance company to report the accident.
  7. Contact a motor vehicle lawyer.

After the fact, keep a file with:

  • The official police report
  • Any tickets issued as a result of the accident
  • Medical records and bills for treatment related to injuries sustained in the accident
  • Your work schedule with time missed. This will help you recoup the lost wages you would have earned if you were able to work.
  • A copy of your insurance policy
  • Health insurance policy information – especially in the case of Medicare or Medicaid, your insurance company may have a lien on any settlement you receive if they’ve paid any of the related bills. Your attorney will need your health insurance card so they can gather information about your coverage and discuss the medical bills on your behalf.

Your attorney will work with you to gather all of this information, so you don’t have to stress.

If the Police Car Hits You

Try your best to stay calm, even though you may feel intimidated since a police vehicle was involved. The officer involved can’t investigate the case, and the ones who arrive on the scene are only there to document everything and file a report. They aren’t the ones who determine fault. It’s the court that does that, based on the evidence presented.

There are some circumstances where the police will be exempt from charges, such as when they were responding to an emergency. That’s why the circumstances of the case are so important. You may, however, have a case if negligence is involved, and proven.

The circumstances vary greatly from one case to the next. Add in the complexity of state laws surrounding what police officers are allowed to do when responding to a call, and it’s no surprise that you may need legal advice. The claims process is intense and you’ll definitely need help.

Yes, it may cost you more overall, but most of the time, it’s better than having to take on the entire cost of repairing your vehicle, medical expenses, etc.

If You Hit the Police Car

Stay in your car and check for injuries. If you feel pain, don’t try to move. Call 911 and report the accident. The cop you hit cannot legally conduct the investigation or file a report since they were involved in the accident. Follow all other guidance, but when you report the accident to the insurance company, be sure you let them know you hit a police car. They will work with the police department to process the claim.

It’s still a good idea to hire an attorney, because you may face charges as a result of the collision. The attorney will be able to examine the details of your case and fight on your behalf.


Photo copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Christian is a Tampa, Florida, Trial Lawyer with Denmon & Pearlman trial lawyers. A truly progressive firm offers fixed fee engagements, service guarantees and focuses on picking the right process to lead to a principled settlement for clients. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.

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