It is not clear how many were injured in a Los Angeles car accident early morning September 14, 2009, that was apparently caused by a police officer in Torrance, California. According to a news report in the Daily Breeze, the police officer, who was traveling north on Hawthorne Boulevard in a Chevrolet Tahoe sport utility vehicle, ran a red light and collided with a Ford Ranger pickup truck traveling west on Carson Street. The pickup truck in turn struck a car going south on Hawthorne, Torrance police said. Officials say no serious injuries were reported and admit that the car accident was their officer’s fault. The Redondo Beach Police Department is investigating the car collision. Torrance Police Department will also conduct their own internal review.
It’s always disturbing and disappointing when you hear about those in charge of enforcing the law, breaking the law. I’m glad no one was seriously injured and hope all the injured victims recover quickly and completely. This incident goes to show that anyone can accidently run a red light when they are not focused on their driving.
Car Accident Statistics in Los Angeles
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were four fatalities and 499 injuries involving car accidents in Torrance, California. In Los Angeles County as a whole, 712 deaths and 56,475 injuries were reported as a result of car accidents in 2007.
Based on this news report, the Torrance Police Department has admitted that their officer was at fault for causing this Torrance car accident. Apparently, the officer was not responding to a call and did not have his lights and siren switched on at the time of the crash.
California Car Accident Laws
If I were handling this personal injury case, I’d investigate further into whether or not the officer was on-the-job at the time of the accident. Maybe he wasn’t responding to a call at the time with lights and sirens on. But was he still acting in his capacity as an employee at the time? Was he driving a city-issued vehicle? Although the news report says the police officer was not responding to a call, it doesn’t say he was “off duty.”
If this newspaper report is accurate, this police officer broke the law. Running a red light is a serious traffic violation in California. There are various California Vehicle Code sections that are part of what we commonly refer to as “rules of the road.” These code sections address motorists’ behavior at intersections, especially those controlled by traffic signals.
California Vehicle Code Section 21453 (a) states: “A driver facing a circular red signal shall stop at the limit line before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown.”
The victims of this car collision in Los Angeles would be well-advised to contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who will help determine the liability of the police department and the city in this case. If the officer is found to have run the red light as a result of negligence and was on-the-job, his employer — the Torrance Police Department — could be held liable for personal injuries and damages caused to the victim. If the officer was “off-duty,” the injured victims could still seek compensation through the police officer’s personal car insurance policy.
Please remember that any claim against a governmental agency in the state of California must be filed within 180 days of the accident/injury. The best Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will always provide a free and comprehensive initial consultation to injured victims and their families.