If I was driving on suspended license and didn’t have insurance but a sheriff’s cruiser ran a red light and hit me, can I still sue them?

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If I was driving on suspended license and didn’t have insurance but a sheriff’s cruiser ran a red light and hit me, can I still sue them?

I was proceeding through a green light and he was flying south and didn’t yield for traffic. He hit me so hard that both air bags busted and when my car came to rest my right side was on the sidewalk and the left was on the street. I didn’t see any lights or hear any sirens as he was speeding so fast.

Asked on February 21, 2016 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Since the sheriff's vehicle was at fault in the accident, you should file a property damage claim (cost of repairs) to your vehicle with their insurance carrier.  Law enforcement is usually self-insured through the state of CA.  Contact the sheriff's department for the claims procedure for filing your property damage claim.  You will need to follow their procedures and not miss any filing deadlines or your claim will be denied.  If your claim is denied, you can file a lawsuit for negligence against the Sheriff's department, city and state.  Since you were not at fault in the accident, the fact that you were driving on a suspended license and were uninsured won't bar your claim.
If you were injured in the accident, your personal injury claim is separate from your property damage claim.  When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor, obtain your medical bills, medical report and wage loss.  Your personal injury claim should include those items.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  If the case is settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed. If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers, reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit for negligence.  If the case is NOT settled, your lawsuit for negligence must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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