Personal Injury & Medical Malpractice Blog

Monday, April 17, 2017

Who Is Liable When You Are Injured Due To A Police Chase?

If you are a driver or pedestrian, at one time you must have heard that blaring sound of sirens from police cars speeding past you. If you’re a driver, you may have pulled over to let the police cars pass. While this may sound like an easy thing to do, during a high-speed chase, you may not have enough time to do it. Even if you do, the speeding cars may still recklessly ram into your vehicle, injuring you and any passengers you may have. According to state accident statistics, this happens often.

  • Between 1995 and 2005, there were 100 deaths resulting from high-speed chases in New York. That’s an average of five deaths per year
  • The 100 deaths occurred in 89 separate crashes. Two – thirds of the crashes were outside New York City and Long Island counties
  • Of the reported fatalities, 20 were drivers and pedestrians not involved in the chase, two were police officers, and 78 were the suspects being pursued.

Can I Sue The Police For Injuries Sustained During A Police Chase?

If you have been injured or suffered damage to property as a result of a car chase, you may be wondering whether you can sue the police for the injuries you’ve sustained or damage done to your property. A municipal liability lawyer will be able to analyze the facts of your case and let you know your options.

While the police do have a duty to catch offenders, they also have a duty to do so without acting recklessly. They may be empowered to violate standard traffic rules in order to catch “bad guys” but this does not mean they should throw caution to the wind and drive recklessly, endangering the lives of other drivers and pedestrians.

New York requires police officers to conduct a balance test before engaging in or continuing a car chase. This means they must weigh the need to apprehend the suspect versus the danger a chase would pose to other road users. In doing so, they are to consider such factors as the offense created by the suspects, alternative methods of apprehending them, prevailing road conditions and population density.

If the risk posed to the public is greater than the danger to the community if the suspect escapes, the chase must end. If police, however, continue a chase when the balance is not in its favor, they will have acted recklessly. They will be accountable for any injuries or loss of life caused.

Besides driving recklessly, they may also have acted negligently, as they owe a duty of care to other road users including cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. To hold them liable for such negligence, you must prove that they owed a duty of care, they breached that duty of care and you suffered injury as a result of the breach.

What If I Was Injured By A Police Car But Not During A Police Chase?

A higher standard of recklessness only covers police officers during emergencies such as a car chase. During normal drives, police are subject to the same standard of care as other motorists.

This means the police can only violate ordinary traffic laws during an emergency, during which instance they will be liable only if they drive recklessly. When there is no emergency, they should follow ordinary traffic laws and will be held liable simply for not doing so and for injuries caused to other road users as a result.  

If you have been injured or suffered damage to property during a police chase, do not feel helpless. You have legally enforceable rights. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney today.  


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