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Title: Should I accept some blame for accident with police car?

Date: 22 January 2015

Question

Should I be accepting a 50/50 settlement? Here are the facts:

I approached a junction and went through an amber light. I believed it was too late to safely brake. A police car came from my left. He ran a red light because it was on an emergency call. We collided in the junction and I went over the car and landed on the road. Amazingly I had no injuries, and at first the police accepted full responsibility. However they then argued for a 50/50 liability split. I do not think this is fair as they were the ones who went through a red light.

The witnesses have apparently said I was not speeding and neither was the police car.

The police have also said there are numerous witness statements but only gave two of them to my insurance company. After reading them, my insurance company want to go 50/50 but have not obtained all of the statements. What can I do as I don’t want my premium going up and only half my compensation for my scuffed kit.

Gnasher

Answer

As with all these cases the result will be fact specific and as such to give a proper opinion I would need to see all the witness evidence and if there is some, the CCTV footage. However there are some basic rules that apply in such circumstances and there is a lot of case law involving accidents with emergency vehicles that assist in providing a view.

Firstly if the amber light is illuminated, a vehicle must stop, unless it has already passed the white stop line or the vehicle is so close to the stop line, that coming to a halt might cause an accident. Therefore your exact position and speed will be relevant factors.

Secondly, the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 reg.36(1)(b) allow an emergency vehicle to treat a red light as a give way signal. Clearly the police driver is still under a duty to take reasonable care of other road users. However in this case I think you will be subject to a portion of the blame due to not noticing the sirens/lights and running an amber light. The exact apportionment is difficult to assess without specific evidence of your exact position and witness statement consideration but I can see why your insurer is willing to settle at 50/50. If it was a valuable case involving significant injury clearly they would d be investing more money in precisely establishing liability.

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