Can you sue the officer individually?
The answer is a little bit complicated. Florida statutes specifically say that you are not permitted to sue the officer individually for acts of negligence that occurred within the course and scope of employment with the government agency. In this case, the government agency accepted that the officer was in the course and scope of his employment and at the time of the crash.
So the exclusive remedy to recover damages for my client is to sue the agency that the officer worked for. But there is an exception where you are permitted to sue the officer directly. The statute says that in cases where the officer acts in bad faith with malicious purpose or with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others, you can then sue the officer directly.
But there is a catch-22. If you choose to sue the officer individually for bad faith, malicious purpose, or reckless disregard for others, then the agency that the officer worked for cannot be held liable for damages that were caused while he was in the course and scope of his employment. This means if you sue the officer for that level of misconduct, the agency is off the hook. The decision of whether to sue the officer or the agency requires a careful legal analysis, which is ultimately in the best interest of the client.