Family Sues Municipality After School Resource Officer Struck In Traffic
An attorney for the family of a school resource officer who died while directing traffic claims the city is at fault for dangerous conditions outside of the school. They noted several issues in the complaint including a speed reduction sign that was apparently not working.
According to the family, the school is located directly outside of a highway but the school cannot be seen because of obstructing trees. Additionally, the speed limit outside of the school is 65 mph but there was another sign to reduce speed to 45 when there was a flashing yellow light. None of the flashing yellow lights were operational and the sign was not in working order when the crash occurred. The family contends that there was no other alert that drivers were entering a school zone. This made the area unreasonably dangerous for both children and the school resources officer who was directing traffic that day. Since the city had foreknowledge of the dangerous condition and allowed a man to enter it without correcting or warning him about the dangerous condition, the family believes the city should be held accountable for his death.
Two forms of immunity to overcome
This is a very difficult lawsuit for the family and their attorney. There are two forms of immunity they will have to overcome. The first is sovereign immunity which applies when you sue a government, and the second is employer immunity which applies when you sue an employer.
The first, employer immunity, applies when your employer commits some form of negligence that leads to an injury. In most cases, workers’ compensation would kick in here and prevent a lawsuit. In the case of a death, death benefits would be given to the family. However, the school resources officer’s family has filed the lawsuit against the Department of Transportation which is responsible for maintaining safe roadways, especially outside of schools. It remains unclear if this will be enough to overcome employer immunity. Alternatively, if the workers’ compensation policy does not cover the worker’s situation, then a lawsuit could be filed.
The second form of immunity is sovereign immunity. That applies when a citizen files a lawsuit against a government. Every state has its own rules on sovereign immunity. But Florida’s rules cap damages at $200,000 per individual. It’s possible to recover more than that, but the plaintiff must ask their lawyer to petition the legislature to pass the claims bill authorizing the money for the plaintiff.
The plaintiff is in a difficult position having lost a loved one to a preventable accident. Now, the matter is also tied up in various legal obstacles to recovery. Ultimately, the accident was foreseeable.
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