In our last post, we provided a summary of the law that governs lawsuits against government agencies to recover damages for the torts of public employees. Now, a recent auto accident in West Hollywood provides a practical example of the kind of incident that might prompt such a lawsuit.
At 11:00 in the evening, police were called to an alleged incidence of felony assault. The deputies who responded to the call were speeding down Santa Monica Boulevard with sirens wailing and lights flashing. The police cruiser struck another vehicle and was shoved onto the sidewalk, where it struck two pedestrians. One pedestrian died at a local hospital, and the second pedestrian remains hospitalized in critical condition. The two police officers in the cruiser were also hospitalized and are believed to be in stable condition.
The exact cause of the accident is not known. One witness pointed out that two other pedestrians were killed in the same area on Santa Monica Boulevard in separate incidents. Persons who live and work in the neighborhood said that "the street is really dangerous."
Many questions remain. Did the circumstances of the original call to the police justify driving at high speed on a busy street? Was the squad car traveling too fast for the conditions? Why didn't the deputy who was driving see the other vehicle? Was the other vehicle legally parked? Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a police vehicle may benefit from consulting an attorney who specializes in such cases. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the circumstances of the accident and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages from the public agency.
Source: CBS Los Angeles, "Pedestrian Killed, 3 Injured In Deputy-Involved Crash In WeHo," Oct. 16, 2016