In Kansas (as is true throughout the remainder of the nation), law enforcement officers must undergo rigorous training before they are permitted to take to the streets by themselves. The process usually begins with the completion of an academy that may last several months. From there, the new recruit must usually complete a period of “field training” where the new officer is directly supervised by a more experienced officer while the new officer attempts to apply the knowledge he or she gained at the academy to the “real world.” All told, it may be six months or more before a new recruit has graduated from the training phase of his or her employment and is released to the field without direct supervision.
However, even the most skilled and well-trained law enforcement officer is still only human and mistakes can be made. When a law enforcement officer’s err in judgment causes you or your loved one injury, recovering compensation may be significantly more difficult than when a civilian driver is the cause of your injuries.
Protections for Law Enforcement Officers
Unlike civilian drivers, police officers, highway patrol troopers, and sheriff’s deputies have certain protections that apply when they are responding to emergency calls or pursuing criminals. K.S.A. 8-1506 exempts law enforcement officers from following most rules of the road (including speeding laws) so long as they do not endanger others and proceed with due regard for the safety of others on the road. In other words, if a law enforcement officer is speeding or violating a traffic law but is doing so in a careful and prudent manner, taking into account the safety of others, that law enforcement officer will be immune from criminal prosecution (and, in most cases, immune from civil liability as well) if he or she causes an injury crash. This immunity represents the first hurdle that must be cleared in a crash caused by a law enforcement officer.
Suing Government Agencies and Political Subdivisions
The next hurdle that injury victims hurt by a law enforcement officer must clear is Kansas’s Tort Claims Act. This Act specifies how personal injury claims must be brought against government entities and their employees (such as law enforcement officers). The Act is very specific in terms of what the injury plaintiff must do and the timeframe in which these tasks must be completed. A personal injury plaintiff who fails to follow the procedures for bringing a claim as set out in the Act will typically be foreclosed from obtaining any compensation whatsoever from the government agency and/or its employee.
What Should I Do If I am Injured by a Law Enforcement Officer’s Driving?
Because of the unique challenges that face injury victims who are injured in a wreck caused by a law enforcement officer, it is advisable that you seek experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel. The first step in your recovery process requires you to file a written claim with the government agency that employed the officer involved in your wreck within the statutorily-designated time.
Michael R. Lawless is an experienced Kansas car wreck injury attorney with years of experience assisting victims of all types of car wrecks. Where the at-fault driver in your wreck is a law enforcement officer or other government employee, Michael R. Lawless can assist you in quickly taking the steps you need to take in order to assert your legal rights. Call Kansas Car Wreck Lawyer Michael R. Lawless as soon as possible at (800) 734-3771 and allow him to help you on your road to recovery.