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Tort Immunity Makes It Difficult to Collect Injury Compensation from Police

Posted on in Car Accidents

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.

Recent Case

In Romito v. City of Chicago, the plaintiff was seeking compensation for injuries she suffered after rear-ending a police car. The officers were responding to a domestic violence call at the time of the incident. The plaintiff said she crashed into the vehicle because:

  • The vehicle was double-parked; 
  • It was dark; and
  • The vehicle did not have any lights or sirens turned on.

At the time of the crash, the officers had determined that there was no immediate danger at the residence and were filling out a report inside their vehicle. The plaintiff claimed the tort immunity did not apply to the officers because they were no longer responding to an emergency. The officers replied that they are required by law to complete the domestic violence report and were planning to return to the residence to give a copy of the report. The court agreed with the defendants and granted summary judgment in their favor.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

It is difficult to receive personal injury compensation from any government body because of tort immunity laws. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can discuss your options for compensation in your case. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838. 

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2019/1stDistrict/1181152.pdf

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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