If a police officer is driving drunk and causes a car accident injuring another driver, can he be sued for negligence?

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If a police officer is driving drunk and causes a car accident injuring another driver, can he be sued for negligence?

An off-duty officer was driving with a blood alcohol level of over .175 and has not been charged yet (over 2 months later). Injured my son who is still unable to go back to school (senior year). Can the officer be sued for negligence?

Asked on February 26, 2012 under Accident Law, Michigan

Answers:

Herman Klemick / Klemick and Gampel, P.A.

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes you can sue the police officer. You may be able to sue the police department and or you may be able to sue the bar or the homeowner where he got drunk. In Florida there is a house party statute.

Timothy Klisz / Klisz Law Office, PLLC

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As a Michigan attorney, the No-fault law is complex, but an officer can be sued for negligent driving, either on or off duty.  Contact me at kliszlaw.com to discuss.  Tim Klisz

Henry Lebensbaum / Law Office of Henry Lebensbaum

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The short answer is yes, and you maybe able to bring an action against the police department or the town.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There are two separate cases; the criminal case for drunk driving and the civil case (lawsuit).  As for the criminal case, it would be advisable to find out why charges haven't been filed two months after the incident.

Since drunk driving is a crime and the cop was off duty, his auto insurance carrier will probably deny your son's personal injury claim since a crime was involved.  If that happens, then you will need to file a lawsuit for negligence against the off-duty cop.  It would be premature to file the lawsuit until your son is either released by the doctor upon completion of his medical treatment or is declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary which means having reached a point where no further improvement is anticipated because you would not know the total medical bills or have the final medical report. When your son is released by the doctor or is declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary, obtain your son's medical bills and medical reports.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your son's injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  If your son was employed and had any wage loss, compensation for wage loss can also be recovered and is straight reimbursement.

Since your son is a minor, you will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on his behalf because a minor cannot file a lawsuit himself.  Your son's lawsuit will need to be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or he will lose his rights forever in the matter.


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