The narrow escape of four Tennessee police officers during the first week of June has highlighted the dangers involved in their jobs. Traffic and police officers who respond to a car or truck accident regularly find themselves exposed and in real danger of being hurt while responding to accidents. To date in 2016, six officers across the country have been fatally struck by vehicles.
In the recent incident reported, the four officers were walking to their vehicles, after responding to a call, when a driver deliberately swerved toward them. All four officers managed to avoid being hit. Tennessee law requires of drivers to move away from any emergency vehicle with flashing lights. If this cannot be done safely, a driver is required to slow down to ensure the safety of the responders.
Unfortunately, reports by officers, as evidenced by the above-mentioned six fatalities, indicate that many drivers disregard the law. In a few cases, drivers even try to hit officers, as apparently occurred in this situation. In other cases, it is a driver becomes distracted and/or loses concentration while traveling too fast.
Although, any officer hurt or killed in this manner is likely covered by workers’ compensation; a personal injury or wrongful death claim is also a possibility, depending on the evidence. Tennessee law provides an injured victim of a car or truck accident the choice to file a personal injury claim, while the legal estate of a deceased victim may elect to file a wrongful death claim. In cases where recklessness or negligence can be shown as the root cause of the accident, a victim (or his/her family after a fatal accident) may institute a civil case against an allegedly reckless driver for financial damages.
Source: wcyb.com, “Getting hit by vehicles a serious danger for police”, Cassandra Sweetman, June 3, 2016