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Can a police officer be sued for a car accident injury?

Early this month, in Bloomfield, a crash between a police squad car and an SUV left the driver of the SUV critically injured. It happened at about 8:30 at night. Officials say the patrol car's lights and siren were on and the squad car, a Ford Explorer, crashed into the passenger side of the SUV at an intersection.

The question some might be asking is whether or not the driver of the SUV has a right to make a personal injury claim against the officer. The answer is not easy to answer at this point, but there are indications in the news reports that filing a suit might be an option. Speaking with an attorney certainly is indicated.

First, it's important to keep in mind that the old adage that you can't sue City Hall no longer stands. It used to be that the doctrine of sovereign immunity allowed governments to avoid actions if they chose to. That isn't the case anymore. Injury-causing auto accidents or slip-and-fall accidents on government premises can result in personal injury suits depending on the circumstances.

In the case of the Bloomfield crash, the circumstances aren't all that clear. A careful read of the newspaper account suggests that the SUV driver may have failed to take precautions in response to the lights and siren of the police vehicle.

But the report also notes that the officer involved only graduated from the police academy last year and is relatively new to the job. Also, a police spokesman said it's not clear if she followed training that requires emergency vehicle operators to slow down or even stop before proceeding through a red light or stop signal. She suffered only minor injuries in the crash.

An investigation is said to be still underway.

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