Public Employers Should Protect Members of Law Enforcement by Providing Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage

Hoyt and Blewett PLLC Calls for Public Employers to Protect Police Officers, Sherriff Deputies and Highway Patrol Troopers by Providing Uninsured and Underinsured Auto Insurance Coverage

Law enforcement officers have one of the most important and dangerous jobs in the Montana work force.  In order to protect our community, law enforcement officers consistently put their lives on the line and place themselves at risk for workplace injuries.

Drunk drivers and those who operate their vehicles in a reckless manner pose a major risk of injury to on-duty officers.  This risk is only increased by the fact that many police officers, sheriff deputies, and highway patrol troopers spend much of their work shifts driving on Montana’s streets and highways in their government issued vehicles. 

If you or your loved one is a member of law enforcement that was injured in a car accident in the line of duty, call Hoyt & Blewett today at (406) 233-1302 to fully understand your options under the law.

Most Law Enforcement Entities Don’t Provide Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage

Drunk drivers and other motorists who negligently injure public safety officers often have no insurance or too little insurance to cover the serious injuries too often suffered by the injured officer.  Given the high risk to law enforcement officials from uninsured and underinsured motorists, one would think that public employers would purchase relatively inexpensive underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage to protect these public servants from injury.

Unfortunately, despite the obvious risks faced by public safety officers, many public employers neglect to purchase this critically important auto insurance coverage for officers.  For instance, the State of Montana does not provide uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage for its Highway Patrol Troopers.  Local governments, such as the Cascade County, only provide limited uninsured motorist coverage and no underinsured motorist coverage for sheriff deputies.

Law Enforcement Officers Must Often Purchase Their Own UIM Coverage

Because public entities often fail to purchase uninsured motorist coverage and almost never purchase underinsured motorist coverage, when public safety officers are injured by drunk drivers they are rarely if ever made whole from the serious injuries and damages they suffer protecting our community 

Making matters worse for law enforcement officers and their families is the fact that many law enforcement officers are unaware that the insurance policies covering their work vehicles often provide them with limited or no uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage and they are not aware of the need to purchase a personal policy containing these coverages.  Law enforcement officers may purchase their own personal policies with uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, but some policies may attempt to exclude coverage for accidents involving work vehicles or government vehicles.

Given the sacrifice made by law enforcement officials to serve and protect, public employers owe it to our public safety officers to provide them sufficient underinsured motorist coverage and uninsured motorist coverage while operating work vehicles.

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Car Accidents Involving Police Officers?

Montana law enforcement officials who are injured on the job in auto accidents are entitled to workers compensation benefits. However, Montana’s workers’ compensation benefits are very meager and stacked against the injured law enforcement officer.  Even with workers’ compensation coverage, an officer, deputy or trooper can face financial ruin.

Under the workers’ compensation system, an injured officer is only entitled to recover a fraction of his or her wages and there is no recovery for disfigurement, pain and suffering and other human losses that can severely affect a law enforcement officer’s life.  Fortunately, law enforcement officers who are injured in the line of duty by drunk drivers and other tortfeasors are also entitled to pursue auto insurance claims against the negligent driver and any underinsured or uninsured motorist policies that are in place.

Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers in Great Falls, MT

The personal injury attorneys at Hoyt and Blewett PLLC are proud to represent those who serve and protect our community.  Whether it involves firefighters, police officers, sheriff’s deputies or Highway Patrol Troopers, Hoyt and Blewett PLLC has represented numerous public safety officers in auto accidents and other injury claims.   If you are a public service officer and have been injured in a car accident feel free to contact Hoyt and Blewett PLLC today for a free consultation.