Many of us have seen on television how dangerous car police chases can be. The person being chased is typically fleeing the police because of open warrants, suspicious causes, or for some reason they do not want to be stopped by the police. While some of these police chases end with very minimal damage, others consist of crashed vehicles, damaged public property, and even fatalities.
In regards to personal injury cases and police chases, one of the main questions that must be answered is who is liable for the car accident? The victim of a police chase (an innocent bystander who was injured) has the right to receive medical treatment for their injuries, and compensation for the accident-related bills and expenses should be covered by insurance. The question is: whose insurance is pursued?
Although we might think that the person fleeing the accident is automatically responsible for the accident, the police department might actually be found liable for the accident in Texas. Let’s see why.
Before the Chase
Let’s take a moment to analyze how a chase begins with the following scenario. First, a police officer may pull over a suspect for a broken tail light. Unbeknown to the police offer, the suspect they may be pulling over has several warrants out for their arrest. The suspect, fearing they may be arrested for their warrants, decides to drive off. The police officer proceeds to chase the suspect in a busy neighborhood. The chase goes on for 10 miles, when the suspect is finally stopped and arrested. In the police chase, three vehicles were hit by the suspect resulting in two injuries.
There were key words in the scenario that you may have caught that may be indicators of a police officer being partially liable for the accident. These key words are: “busy neighborhood” and “10 miles”. Should the police officer have decided to chase a suspect in a busy neighborhood? Unlike a highway where vehicles are always moving, in a neighborhood there are parked vehicles, pedestrians, and low speed limits. Additionally, chasing a suspect for 10 miles in a busy neighborhood could have involved even more accidents and injuries than the one in the scenario.
Are you starting to note why the police department might be partially liable for the accident?
Policies, Protocols, and Regulations
Police departments have certain rules as to whether or not a chase should exist. These can include whether or not there are pedestrians present, weather conditions, and risk. For this reason, a police officer must consider all environmental factors before deciding to chase a suspect. After all, chasing the suspect is not the only way to catch a suspect.
Just like the insurance companies insure automobile drivers, police departments have liability insurance that safeguards them in cases of auto accidents and personal injuries. For this reason, police officers are informed about proper procedures to make sure the department is not paying for accidents.
Personal Injury Claims and Police Chases
When the time comes for a personal injury claim to be filed, a personal injury attorney can pursue the police department, the at-fault driver (the driver that caused the wreck), the owner of the at-fault driver’s vehicle (in the event that they were not driving their own vehicle), and other parties involved.
If you were injured in a police chase because the person fleeing the police crashed into you or caused an accident where you were hurt, you have rights. The attorneys at the Anderson Law Firm have experience with police chases, and know how to successfully fight for your rights. We can win compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Call us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.