After an accident occurs, the first people on the scene are often police officers. They arrive to assist other emergency responders and victims. They investigate the crash scene and gather evidence such as eyewitness accounts from people who observed the events leading up to the crash and the collision itself.
Last year a New Jersey police officer was the first on the scene for a different reason. He was the first on the scene of a fatal motorcycle accident because he was a driver. In fact, a lawsuit was recently filed by the family of two motorcycle victims. The family says that the police officer’s negligent actions directly led to the death of their loved one.
The two victims were a 64-year-old man and his 53-year-old wife riding their motorcycle on Route 206. At the same time on March 19, 2011 a police officer was also on the road. According to the documents filed in court say that the officer was responding to the report of another accident. The victims’ family members claim that the officer’s lights and sirens were not activated at the time of the crash. They also say that the officer was negligent in his actions while speeding.
It is true that there are times when quick police response is necessary. However, there is a balance between necessary response and the safety of others on the road. Although the duty of care may be different for a responding police officer and an average driver while on the road, there is still a duty. When it is broken by negligent actions, even a responding officer can be held liable for the damages that they cause.
Source: Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, “NJ state police facing lawsuit over fatal crash,” April 7, 2012