If the police totaled my stolen car during a chase, can I sue the department?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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If the police totaled my stolen car during a chase, can I sue the department?

My car was stolen. The driver was chased by the police and they hit my car and totaled it. Can I sue the police department or their insurance for this? I have full coverage as well. Can I get paid off for this?

Asked on August 14, 2019 under Accident Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you most likely cannot sue the police because the police (and the towns employing them) have broad immunity to lawsuit when the police are acting reasonably in pursuit of doing their jobs--as they likely were, in chasing a stolen car. This immunity is given to them because otherwise, they could not do their jobs if everytime there was any damage from police activities, they could be sued. To sue successfully, you'd need to hire some policing expert who could testify in court and convince the court that the polices' actions were not reasonable: even assuming that was the case (which again, it may not be--they may well have been acting reasonably), the cost of the expert, which you cannot recover or get back in the lawsuit, would significantly offset or eat into what you hope to recover. 
You could certainly sue the person who is indisputably in the wrong--the car thief. However, he's not likely to have any money.
You write you have insurance: use it. That's what it is there for.

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