Can a City Not Be Liable for the Acts of an Off Duty Police Officer Driving a City Owned Vehicle?
An off duty police officer driving a police vehicle owned by the City of Baton Rouge rear-ended an individual. The City was exempt from having to carry insurance on the vehicle. The vehicle was “self-insured.” However, the police officer was off duty; therefore, the City was not liable for the negligence of the police officer. The police officer’s personal insurance policy excluded coverage because the police officer was using a city owned vehicle. The victim was left without recoverable insurance absent the victim’s own UM insurance. The court in Cooper v. Reed, 845 So.2d. 411 (La. 1st Circ. 2003) stated:
Absent a legislative requirement that government vehicles be insured for any permissive use, the City, therefore, may allow unlimited personal use of its vehicles with impunity. This leaves members of the general public, as well as the employee-drivers, unprotected for much of the time these vehicles are being used. Given this state’s strong public policy that only insured automobiles be allowed on its roads, the legislature should consider if this is the result it intended.
Plauché, Smith & Nieset is engaged in the insurance defense practice, concentrating on insurance defense litigation and business litigation in Calcasieu Parish, Cameron Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Allen Parish, and Beauregard Parish. Plauché, Smith & Nieset also engages in the insurance defense practice throughout the state of Louisiana.