On the South Side of Chicago four people were injured Wednesday night when a Chicago police car collided with another vehicle, according to the Southtown Star. The squad car was responding to an emergency call when it collided with a civilian vehicle around 7 pm in the 10900 block of South State Street.
The two officers and the two occupants of the other vehicle were all injured in the auto accident and taken to local hospitals by ambulance. It has not been reported how the accident occurred and the Calumet District of the Chicago Police Department is investigating.
When a civilian is injured in this type of situation, it is often not an easy case to pursue, even if the police officer was at fault in the accident. The police are protected by the governmental tort immunity act. When responding to an emergency call, the department is not liable for ordinary negligence but they can be held liable for willful and wanton conduct (which is a difficult burden to meet in Court).
Here is an example: If the police car hit another vehicle speeding through a red light while responding to an emergency call with emergency lights and siren activated, they would most likely not be held liable, as this sounds like ordinary negligence and not willful and wanton conduct. However, if in the same situation they did not have their emergency lights and/or siren activated and were traveling at a high rate of speed, an argument could be made in Court for willful and wanton, or reckless conduct.
As for Chicago police officers, if injured on the job they have the right to collect different types of union benefits (and they are not covered by ordinary workers’ compensation laws). Further, if the civilian vehicle caused the accident, they have the right to pursue a civil claim against the at fault driver’s insurance policy. (The civilian passenger would have a claim against the civilian driver as well).
If you have been injured in a Chicago area auto accident, contact Abels & Annes to speak with a lawyer now.