In the realm of unexpected incidents, car accidents involving off-duty cops introduce a unique set of challenges. While officers are sworn to protect and serve, car accidents happen even when they are off the clock. The experienced car accident attorneys at Bowman Law put together the following blog to address the intricacies of car accidents caused by off-duty cops, the legal complexities involved, considerations for personal injury claims, and the steps you should take to protect your rights.
Can an Off-Duty Cop be Liable for Car Accidents?
In Colorado, off-duty cops can be held liable for the car accidents they cause. While off-duty, police officers are not exempt from adhering to traffic laws and maintaining a duty of care on the road. Determining the culpability of an off-duty cop follows the same principles as any other traffic incident. If evidence establishes the off-duty cop’s actions directly contributed to the accident, they can be held responsible. Moreover, depending on the facts and circumstances of the accident, the off-duty officer may be personally responsible for your harms and losses.
Can a Police Department be Liable for Car Accidents Caused by an Off-Duty Cop?
If the off-duty cop is found to be acting within the course and scope of his employment as a police officer, the police department can be held liable for your harms and losses. However, it is important to note that a police officer and the police department are considered public entities in Colorado. This means the off-duty cop and the police department are typically shielded from certain lawsuits by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, known as the “Colorado Governmental Immunity Act” or “CGIA.”
While the CGIA establishes immunity, there are exceptions to the waiver, notably when an injury or loss results from the operation of a motor vehicle. However, it is essential to note the immunity of an off-duty police officer will not be waived if the off-duty police officer is engaged in an emergency call at the time of a car accident.
The concept of immunity extends to employees of public entities through the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. This doctrine holds employers accountable for their employees’ actions within the scope of employment. While this principle may apply to off-duty police officers, its application hinges on the specific details of each case. Therefore, you must be able to establish that the off-duty police officer was working the course and scope of his employment as a police officer in order to hold the police department liable for its officer’s actions.
Given the dynamic nature of legal frameworks, it is imperative to consult with a legal professional in Colorado for the latest and most accurate information, as laws evolve and interpretations may differ. If you are contending with a specific case involving an off-duty police officer company, paramedics, and a car accident, seeking guidance from an attorney well-versed in personal injury and government immunity in Colorado is strongly advised.
Injured in a Car Accident Caused by an Off-Duty Cop?
Following an off-duty police officer car accident, it may be natural to assume the department will automatically accept responsibility. However, it is crucial to proactively take the necessary steps to ensure accountability on the part of the off-duty police officer. If you are hit by an off-duty police officer you should:
- Contact the police;
- Obtain the contact information for the off-duty police officer, including his badge number and department;
- Obtain the insurance information for the off-duty police officer;
- Collect photo and video evidence of the scene, your injuries, your vehicle, and the off-duty police officer’s vehicle;
- Collect all witness information;
- Seek medical attention;
- Provide notice of your claim to the off-duty police officer’s insurance company and the State of Colorado.
File a Claim Against an Off-Duty Cop After a Car Accident
If you have been hit by an off-duty police officer who was not in the course and scope of his employments as a police officer, you can simply obtain the off-duty police officer’s personal insurance policy and open a claim through the claims department. You can then provide the insurance adjuster with the requisite information about the accident.
If, on the other hand, you have been hit by an off-duty police officer who was in the course and scope of his employments as a police officer, there are certain requirements you must abide by under the CGIA in order to have your claim considered. This notice must be in writing and provided to the requisite public entities within 182 of the accident. The notice must include the following:
- The name and address of the claimant and the name and address of his attorney;
- A concise statement of the factual basis of the claim, including the date, time, place, and circumstances of the act, omission, or event complained of;
- The name and address of any public employee involved;
- A concise statement of the nature and the extent of the injury claimed to have been suffered;
- A statement of the amount of monetary damages that is being requested.
Contact Experienced Car Accident Lawyers
Navigating personal injury claims against an off-duty cop can be a formidable task due to the unique challenges posed by the off-duty officer’s classification. Legal representation is invaluable in these types of cases, as experienced personal injury attorneys can help a personal injury victim understand the nuances of these hurdles, build a compelling case, and advocate for the rights an injured party deserves effectively.
Whether an off-duty police officer driver causes an accident in Colorado, it is important to consult with experienced car accident attorneys to understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation for economic and non-economic damages, pain and suffering, impairment, lost wages, and more. Our experienced car accident attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of these cases and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Call Bowman Law today at 720-863-6904.
Jessica is a Colorado native. She is admitted to practice law in the State of Colorado as well as the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. Jessica is an active member of the Colorado Bar Association, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, and American Association for Justice.