What to do if a police officer hits your car

Being involved in a car accident can be shocking and scary. It’s even more alarming if the other driver is a police officer. Unfortunately, police officers do get into wrecks despite their training. If you’ve been hit by a cop car, here is what you need to know about handling the situation properly.

At the scene of the accident

Staying calm and focused in the aftermath of the collision will help ensure you take the necessary steps.

Call 911 to report the accident

Even if the police are already on the scene, you’ll want to request emergency assistance and make an official report of the crash. The 911 operator can send additional police, paramedics, or firefighters if needed.

Gather information and document the accident

When you’ve made the 911 call, start collecting important data while it’s fresh.

Get contact and insurance information

Ask the officer for their name, badge number, department contact details, insurance company and policy details.

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Take photos and video

Use your smartphone to photograph damage to both vehicles, the roadway, weather conditions, traffic signs or signals, skid marks, and more. Short video can also clearly show what transpired.

Get witness contact information

If anyone saw the collision occur, request their name and phone number in case you need their official witness statement later. Eyewitnesses can provide valuable third-party confirmation of what happened.

Determining fault

Figuring out which driver is legally responsible for causing the accident is crucial. Police officers are not automatically deemed “at fault” just because they’re on the job at the time. Normal rules of the road apply.

Police officer may admit fault

The officer might acknowledge they were texting, speeding, failed to yield properly, or violated some other traffic law. An admission makes it pretty straightforward.

You may need to prove fault

Without a confession, you might have to demonstrate how the officer was driving negligently based on forensic evidence and testimony. Their word usually gets taken over yours, which is why thorough documentation is key.

Making an injury claim

If the collision resulted in injuries to you or passengers, medically documenting harm is vital for financial recovery.

Seek medical attention for injuries

Get evaluated by EMTs/paramedics at the scene or go to an emergency room/doctor’s office soon after the crash before wounds can heal. Diagnostic testing like x-rays, MRIs, etc establishes physical damage.

Document injuries and treatment

Keep records detailing diagnosed conditions, treatments undergone, medications prescribed, medical equipment needed, therapy referrals, prognosis for recovery, and all associated costs.

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Making a vehicle damage claim

As with injury claims, proving the monetary extent of property loss is essential.

Get repair estimates

Acquire written fix-it quotes from auto body shops specifying exactly what is damaged and how much parts and labor will cost. The more estimates, the better.

File a claim with city or department

Most law enforcement agencies have procedures for submitting vehicle damage claims against them when officers cause collisions. Start the paperwork ASAP while everything remains fresh.

Legal help

For severe crashes with major losses, consulting personal injury lawyers can be invaluable for maneuvering the claims process and securing full financial restitution.

Talk to a personal injury attorney

They assist with establishing negligence, documenting damages, negotiating settlements, and filing lawsuits if out-of-court resolution fails. Their expertise handles the legwork you likely lack time, knowledge and objectivity to manage alone.

After the accident and claim process

Once you’ve started the ball rolling by taking the appropriate post-crash actions, here is what to expect in the days, weeks and months that follow as your case progresses.

Vehicle repairs

Your car will hopefully get fixed quickly if insurance companies cooperate. If delays happen, keep using alternate transportation and save receipts.

Medical treatment

Injuries may heal slowly depending on severity. Don’t stop treatments until doctors provide a final prognosis. Chronic issues could remain lifelong.

Settlement or lawsuit

Ideally your claim settles satisfactory out-of-court. However, complex cases could require legal proceedings if settlement talks stall. Either way, stay patient through resolution.


Q: Is the officer always guilty if they hit my vehicle?

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A: No, the officer must be found negligent in their driving based on evidence and testimony. Normal traffic laws apply in determining fault.

Q: What if there are no witnesses to the police crash?

A: Without witness corroboration, you’ll have to rely more heavily on physical evidence from the accident scene to build your case regarding negligence.

Q: Can I record video of an officer who hit me without consent?

A: Yes, generally video recording in public spaces is legally permissible, but local laws may impose restrictions. Consult attorneys.

Q: How long does it take to get an injury settlement from a police crash?

A: Every case differs, but severe wrecks often take 12-24 months to investigate thoroughly and negotiate outcome. A lawsuit adds more time.

Q: What if the police department denies my vehicle damage claim?
A: You can appeal internally first, but ultimately may need to hire lawyers to compel payment via formal legal proceedings if warranted.

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