Pedestrian Injury Caused by Speeding Police Vehicle

    This case involves a man who was struck by a police car while attempting to cross the street in an urban area. The plaintiff, a thirty-one-year-old male, was walking from a grocery store across the street to his parked car. In order to reach his car, he had to cross a busy intersection during a red light while traffic was stopped. While making his way between the stopped cars to cross the road, the man was struck by an oncoming police car that had been driving down the opposite side of the road to avoid traffic. The police officer was responding to an emergency distress call and was racing to get there. The police car had its lights on to warn the public, however, it did not use any other means (including a siren) or special alerts when entering the extremely busy intersection.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. What are the proper procedures and protocols for police officers when responding to emergency calls?
    • 2. Are there any other measures which can be employed when entering busy intersections to warn the public?

    Expert Witness Response

    A police officer must have the car’s lights and sirens on and operating continuously to prevent an accident from occurring. While responding to emergencies, police officers must break traffic laws and often are required to drive frantically to reach their destination. Although the lights and sirens are intended to alert the public of the oncoming police car, these alone are sometimes inadequate due to traffic conditions and a variety of other factors. The time of day and conditions outside, along with the format of the intersection and amount of automobile and pedestrian traffic, can all influence the necessary procedures a police officer must take. In this case, because the police officer was crossing a busy intersection with heavy traffic, it is possible that he should have used other procedures to alert the public such as beeping a horn or slowing down. In order to determine if this was necessary, however, all of the other factors must be examined and a fuller review of the facts is necessary. I have been a police officer for over twenty-five years and have been an expert in multiple trials.

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