Belleville Police Cruiser Hits Minivan Head-On in Southern Illinois Car Crash

By May 28, 2009Auto Accidents

A Belleville city police cruiser was involved in a three-car accident Tuesday on Illinois 161, the Belleville News-Democrat reported May 27. The officer, who was alone in his car, apparently lost control just before 8 p.m. and veered into oncoming traffic, hitting a minivan head-on. Another sedan then rear-ended the minivan. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured, but the police car and the minivan were both badly damaged, and emergency responders had to cut the doorjamb off the minivan to release the two children who were passengers.
According to the article, it was raining hard at the time of the accident. A spokesperson for police declined to say whether the officer had his lights and siren on to respond to a call, and the Belleville chief of police referred questions to Illinois state troopers.
This could be an important question for southern Illinois auto accident lawyers like me, because whether the officer was speeding, and whether he was responding to an emergency, are both important questions for establishing liability in any Belleville car wreck lawsuit. Under Illinois law, local government employees, including police officers, are not liable for acts that arise out of doing their jobs. However, they can be liable for unsafe acts that fall outside their jobs, or doing their jobs in a “willful and wanton” way. If the officer was driving at a safe and reasonable speed, especially if he had warning lights and sirens on, he probably cannot be held liable for the accident.
This is not to say that suing a government agency in Illinois is easy. Every Illinois lawsuit has a deadline by which you must start your claim, called a statute of limitations. These deadlines vary according to the type of claim you’re making and your own circumstances, but they typically give plaintiffs two or three years. By contrast, if you’re suing a local government agency (such as a city, township or county), you have just six months to start your claim. For claims against a state government, that deadline is one year.
The process of starting a claim against a local government in Illinois is also more complex than usual, requiring you to give written notice to the government of your claim, including details about the accident, before you can file a formal lawsuit. Mistakes could take away your right to sue at all, which is why experts recommend that plaintiffs call a southern Illinois car crash attorney as soon as possible. At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we prefer to hear from potential clients with these cases as soon as they begin to consider a lawsuit. One of the least pleasant parts of our job is telling clients that they are unable to get the compensation they’d otherwise by entitled to because a deadline has passed.
Based in St. Louis, Carey, Danis & Lowe handles personal injury lawsuits for people throughout Missouri and southern Illinois. If you or a loved one was seriously hurt because of someone else’s negligence, our Missouri auto accident lawyers would like to help. We offer free, confidential consultations, so you can learn more about your rights and your claim with no risk or commitment. To set one up, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.