While Pennsylvania drivers know that they are generally protected when it comes to car accidents under the state’s no-fault insurance laws, you may be unsure of what happens if the vehicle that causes the accident is owned and operated by law enforcement.
Police officers, while there to protect civilians, are human and make mistakes when they are driving. A Philadelphia car crash lawyer can help you pursue a claim against a municipality or the state.
What is General Immunity?
Under the state laws of Pennsylvania, government agencies are generally immune from any liability when their negligence causes an injury. This is especially true if the police officer was in a pursuit. Under Title 75 P.S. Section 6342, police officers are protected by the Pennsylvania Sovereign Immunity Act if they hit a car while chasing a fleeing vehicle.
However, police officers are not covered under this immunity if they are responding to a call without their sirens and lights on, or patrolling while on duty.
Pennsylvania’s Sovereign Immunity Act is waived if the death or injury results from negligent operation by a state police officer. Injured parties and their families can bring a claim against the Commonwealth if they can prove negligence and the resulting injuries are permanent. An injury is considered permanent when it results in loss of life, limb, or regular function. Even a perpetual limp is regarded as a permanent injury.
The Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act allows civilians and their family members injured or killed by a municipal police vehicle to file a claim against the city, town, or other jurisdiction.
What is Statute of Limitations for a Claim against the Government?
In Pennsylvania, most wrongful death or personal injury claims must be filed within two years of the accident. However, if you are planning to file a claim against the Commonwealth, you need to file a written notice of intent within six months of the accident, or your case will be dismissed.
What are Damage Limitations for a Claim Against the State of PA?
Claim damages are capped at $250,000 per plaintiff and $1,000,0000 for a single incident against the state of Pennsylvania. If you are pursuing damages against a local government, the cap is $500,000 for a single accident. Damages you can recover are both economic (quantifiable) and non-economic (pain and suffering). Damages include:
- Medical and dental expenses
- Prosthetic devices
- Physical therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of wages and future earnings
What about My Insurance Coverage?
In most circumstances, you are covered by your insurance if you have chosen no-fault insurance coverage. Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state, which allows consumers to choose whether they want a no-fault policy or a traditional tort liability policy. No-fault insurance covers medical expenses, loss of wages, property damage, etc.
All Pennsylvania drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This covers lost wages and medical expenses. However, the minimum coverage drivers must hold is $5,000 for medical expenses, $5,000 for property damage, and $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident bodily injury liability. For many Pennsylvania drivers, this simply isn’t enough if the accident is severe.
If you have traditional tort liability coverage, you may have full or limited tort insurance. Full tort insurance allows you to sue at-fault drivers for all economic and non-economic damages.
Limited tort insurance allows you to sue for medical bills, lost wages, and property damages, but there is a limit on suing for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering can only be pursued if the injury is serious and results in death, impairment of bodily functions, or a significant deformity.
Why Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer?
Governmental agencies are not always ready to accept blame for their negligence in an accident. For instance, if you were struck by a police vehicle that did not have its lights or sirens on, you may need independent witnesses to corroborate your claim. At The Law Offices of Joel L. Kofsky, our legal team has the resources to seek out these witnesses to support your case.
Our expert medical witnesses can help assess the severity of your injury, and build your case so that it meets the level of serious injury required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Filing a claim against police or any other government agency can be an intricate process, and that’s where the services of an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney can help. We can help prove negligence and meet all procedural and time requirements.
We operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, so you never have to pay any upfront fees. To schedule a free a consultation, contact us today at (215) 735-4800.