Who Covers The Damages During a Car Chase?
Police officers chase tens of thousands of suspects every single year nationwide, typically for misdemeanors or traffic violations. Statistics from the Department of Transportation (DOT) reveal about 250,000 police chases happen every year. Of those, between 6,000 and 8,000 chases result in crashes, which in turn result in 5,000 injured people and 500 deaths.
But most police chases occur following suspicion of wrongdoing or simple traffic violations. Likewise, in most cases, these acts do not warrant a chase. Therefore, police officers are urged to abort or avoid high-speed chases that can potentially endanger nearby motorists and innocent bystanders.
So what happens to innocent bystanders and road users who suffer injuries and property damage because of a police chase? Who can they hold liable for all the accident-related injuries and losses?
Can The Suspect Being Chased Be Held Liable for Damages?
Yes. All motorists owe all the other road users a legal duty of care, and dangerous driving tactics during a car chase can be considered a violation of this legal duty. The driver may deliberately act to injure others or damage property. They may take advantage of the presence of other people on the roads or sidewalks to delay and distract the police, causing more harm to innocent road users.
People who have been injured or sustained property damage in a car chase can pursue compensation for damages from the suspect. If a victim also sustained emotional distress on top of their physical injuries, they can hold the suspect liable for this type of damage as well.
Can The Police Be Held Liable for Damages?
In general, there are two ways people can attempt to recover damages from law enforcement officers involved in high-speed car chases. The first option is through a negligence claim. Government entities usually have sovereign immunity, and the police are state entities and agencies. This means that they have immunity from liability except in certain circumstances as defined in the state’s sovereign immunity statutes.
Even if victims can sue the police under sovereign immunity, the state may limit damages for victims per claim or for every lawsuit when multiple injured people are involved in the case.
The second option is to sue the police under federal statute Section 1983, which provides citizens the private right to action when their civil rights have been violated by government entities. But establishing liability under this federal law requires more than just simple negligence.
Reach Out to a Top Vernon Personal Injury Attorney Today
Regardless of who caused the crash, the injured person has the right to pursue monetary compensation for his losses. Speak to a Vernon personal injury attorney to discuss the case by contacting Berman & Russo at 860-644-1548 or online and arranging a free case evaluation.