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Tort Immunity Makes It Difficult to Collect Injury Compensation from PoliceWhen can a police officer be held liable for causing a traffic accident that results in personal injury to another party? Illinois gives officers tort immunity in situations where they are responding to an emergency. The officer’s driving actions could be negligent, reckless or illegal, but the police department would be protected from civil penalties as long as the officer was in the process of enforcing the law. While it may be necessary to allow officers to respond to emergencies without worrying about civil repercussions, it can deny car crash victims the chance to receive compensation when someone else was at fault for their accident.

Exceptions to Immunity

A court will allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit against a police department if you can prove one of two circumstances:

  • The officer was not engaged in executing the law at the time of the crash; or
  • The officer’s conduct showed a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.

It can be difficult to prove either of these exceptions. Courts tend to give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt when they claim that their actions were necessary or part of their job. A recent case shows how much leeway the law gives police officers who are involved in car accidents.

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Can Ambulance Drivers Be Liable in Accidents?Illinois law requires drivers to cede the right of way to emergency vehicles that are responding to an incident as part of their duty. Obstructing such vehicles or getting into an accident can be a criminal offense. However, there are some scenarios with emergency vehicles that have less clear answers:

  • Can the driver of an emergency vehicle be liable for personal injury if he or she was at fault for an accident?;
  • What legal protections do emergency vehicles have if they are not using their lights and sirens?; and
  • Are ambulance drivers with a private service treated the same as those that work for a local government?

The Illinois Supreme Court answered these questions earlier this decade and found that emergency vehicle drivers do not have the same standard of negligence as other drivers, as long as they are on the job.

Liability Protection

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