An off-duty police officer who caused a car accident has been ordered by a jury to pay $3.1 million in damages. The woman who was awarded the compensation fractured her pelvis, her right foot and her left hip in the crash. She also had to have surgery on both of her knees.
The officer had just dropped off his children when he was driving in a county-issued vehicle in heavy traffic in 2008. Apparently he hit a stopped vehicle in front of him, which caused him to cross the center line and also collide with the woman's oncoming car. Neither the officer nor the woman remembers the car accident, so an account of the events had to be reconstructed from various witnesses.
The woman sued the off-duty officer and the county that issued him the vehicle he was driving in the crash. The judge in Maryland, where the accident took place, threw out the case against the county, due to the officer being off-duty. The county's only obligation was to insure the vehicle, not to cover damages caused by the officer when off duty, the court decided.
The officer had the vehicle outside of the county that issued it, which was a violation of police rules. It is not known if he was disciplined for the violation, as his personnel record has been sealed from public view.
Miami auto accident attorneys noted that one reason the county was a defendant in the original suit is that the county probably has insurance to cover personal injury claims. The officer probably does not. Therefore, the $3.1 million verdict is probably not recoverable from the officer. Unfortunately, it is more likely that the woman will only be able to recover compensation from her insurance and from the officer's auto insurance, and maybe some more from the officer. It is unlikely, though, that the officer would have assets that would cover a multimillion-dollar award.
Source: Washington Examiner "P.G. police officer hit with $3 million verdict for crash in county-leased car" 2/6/2011