Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Virginia

Hit By A Police Officer Driving Police Cruiser

My son was in a car hit from behind by a marked police car. Are police cruisers required to be insured by outside commercial companies like all other registered vehicles in the VA? If so how do I find out who the insurance carrier is so that I can contact their insurance carrier to follow up on filing a claim? My town is self insured.

Asked on 1/21/09, 9:25 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Michael McCarthy Guydon Love, LLP
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Re: Hit By A Police Officer Driving Police Cruiser

I am currently dealing with a case involving a marked police car. This question is complicated and involves a bit more detail than can be provided here. There are issues involving sovereign immunity. Not to mention the Notice requirements when dealing with a Virginia governmental entity. Without knowing any more details, it is likely that your son's only recourse may be collecting against his own uninsured motorist policy. This issue is complicated and I highly suggest you contact a personal injury attorney to represent you.

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1/21/09, 9:39 pm
Jonathon Moseley Moseley & Associates Law Firm
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Re: Hit By A Police Officer Driving Police Cruiser

I would say to see a lawyer for the following reason: When you sue a town or county there can be some unusual requirements. You may have to give a notice within a certain period of time, like 30 or 90 days, and it has to be directed to the correct officer of the Town.

Even if you hope to resolve it amiably, if you lose your right to sue, then you lose your leverage. So you have to complete those steps.

It is possible to hire some attorneys just for an hour or two on that one limited issue (although some attorneys can be a pain and try to talk you into a much bigger project).

You say that your town is self-insured for general purposes but the question is whether the cars are insured in the normal way. I would think so. They would need a special exemption from the regular laws and I don't think there is any such exemption.

Because it is a public government, I believe that they should tell you this information if you ask.

If not, try filing a Freedom of Information Act request for any document showing the insurance policy number and company that insures the police cars of the town. You cannot ask questions, only ask for documents. You simply write a normal letter, saying "this is a freedom of information act request" and state that you are a resident of Virginia.

However, note that while you can make a claim informally with their insurance company, legally you sue the Town, not the insurance company.

OH, AND MAKE SURE YOU CAN PROVE IT. See if you can get any witnesses or bystanders, etc.

ALSO: You may want to file a FOIA to see if there was a camera in the police car recording the event, and/or a radio call into the police dispatch center.

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1/21/09, 11:44 pm

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