Accidents happen”. There are days and even weeks when this saying seems to be heard regularly, but very rarely do we hear or read about an accident caused by law enforcement. I was surprised to read an article recently on the WJHG Channel 7 website that a Panama City Police Officer was responsible for a car accident that occurred on Monday afternoon. The Florida Highway Patrol investigated the accident and cited the officer for following too closely to the vehicle in front of it and causing a wreck. It happened about 4:15PM near the intersection of 18th Street and Danford Avenue in Panama City. The policeman was trying to merge on to Highway 98 from the center turn lane. At the same time, a car driven by another resident from Panama City Beach was attempting to enter the center turn lane in front of the patrol car. According to the FHP report, Smith didn’t see the other car and hit it from behind. Injuries were described as “minor”, but the wreck closed part of Highway 98 for more than three hours while the investigation was taking place.
Under Florida law, Section 768.28 (2015), the city may be sued for loss of property, personal injury, or death caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of its employees while acting within the course and scope of employment. But, the city, county, state or the state’s agencies and subdivisions will not be held liable to pay a claim or a judgment by any one person which exceeds the sum of $200,000. No one wants to bring a claim, much less file a lawsuit, against the city, county or state entity. However, rest assured, each governmental entity, typically, maintains a liability insurance policy that protects itself from the negligent acts of its employees. “Accidents happen” and that is why the government allocates funds to pay insurance premiums or withholds sufficient revenue to be self-insured. These cases can be difficult at times based on the nature and circumstances of the accident. Further, the stigmatism association with bringing a claim against the government isn’t always accepted by others as being acceptable. Our law firm has been on both sides of this issue. We have represented injured deputies and policeman and we have also represented those injured by law enforcement.
If you wish to discuss your claim, it is best to an experienced personal injury attorney at Brannon & Brannon. Questions surrounding liability, payment of your medical care and the pain and suffering you’re experiencing can be complicated. We look forward to hearing from you.