High-speed police chases have become a normal part of everyday life in urban American society. The dangerous criminal pursuits are on the news every day. While the police chase down criminals, it is not uncommon for innocent bystanders and road users to get injured or killed in the process.
More than 350 people are killed in police car chases every year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Out of this, more than a third are innocent bystanders who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Accidents that result from high-speed police chases get complicated when they are caused by the police car. If your vehicle is hit by a police car pursuing a suspect, you have rights under the law to demand compensation.
Most victims fail to realize that all they need to do is hire a good lawyer, and they may get compensated for injuries and damages. The right course of action to take if you are a victim is to get a free case review to figure out the right way forward.
Who Is At Fault?
When you sue for a personal injury claim, you are essentially asking the law to intervene in getting you compensated. Legal jargon aside, you are looking to have the party at fault for your injuries and damage pay for their mistakes or negligence.
Because accidents resulting from police chases happen fast and without warning, it can be challenging to finger the party at fault in court.
However, as with any other legal case, the fault is determined by which driver on the road was negligent. If a police car rammed your vehicle, it is the fault of the police car driver, regardless of who they are.
The strength of an injury claim against a police car often depends on what the officer was doing at the time of the accident. Was he/she responding to an emergency or plainly chasing down a suspect who ran a red light? Were his vehicle’s sirens and headlights on to warn other road users or not?
If your attorney can prove that the officer was negligent in causing the accident, then you will have a strong basis to file a claim
Police Departments’ Policy on Vehicle Chases
The FBI published an alarming report that showed the high number of fatalities resulting from car chases. Consequently, many police departments have restricted and even prohibited high-speed pursuits on public roads. However, vehicle pursuits are still prevalent in the country.
If you or someone you care about is involved in an accident resulting from a police pursuit, the police are mandated to help you out. This means that even if the police believe it is not their fault, they should help you determine who is to blame.
Injuries and damages resulting from police action are reported every day. Even when the police follow protocol in chasing suspects, your right to safety trumps the need to apprehend the criminal.
Notice of Claim
It is an acceptable policy that police officers should chase and arrest criminals. However, the policy must never put the public at risk. Police departments have to balance the good in chasing a suspect vis-a-vis the risks involved. When something goes wrong, and an innocent victim is injured or property affected, someone must pay.
The evaluation of your injury case narrows down to determining who will bear the cost of injury and damages.
If you or someone you care about is injured by a police car, you can file a claim seeking compensation for:
- Cost of medical bills
- Loss of earning capacity
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle repairs
Before you can file a claim, you are legally required to provide the police with a notice of claim, or “Tort Claim.” This is a standard form that highlights the points of your claim, including sustained injuries and a request for damages.
In some cases, the police department may admit liability and respond with a settlement offer. You can discuss this offer with your attorney to determine if it is fair. If not, you can decide to counter the offer or proceed with further action.
Essential Points to Consider Before Filing a Claim
Who Pays the Damages?
Your compensation claim will need to identify the party responsible for the accident. In some cases, even when the police car hits you or your vehicle, the instigator who is ultimately reliable for the cost may be the criminal being chased.
You need an experienced lawyer to help you determine who will pay the costs before filing the claim. Proving gross negligence is a demanding task whose success depends on good preparation.
There are, however, some circumstances that may give your case an edge over the police. For instance:
- If the police caused the accident in a place where police car chases are prohibited.
- If you can prove that the police acted negligently such as driving on the wrong side of the road.
- In rare cases, the police department may be liable if the police car malfunctioned or the driver was not properly trained to engage in hot pursuits.
It is also important to consider whether you are insured for such an eventuality. Your vehicle insurance may be the best way to recover the injury treatment and car repair expenses costs.
Beware of The Statute of Limitations
There is a time limit for how long you can file a personal injury claim. In most states, this is three years from the day of the injury. There is a 2-year Statute of Limitations in Texas, meaning that, in most instances, you have to file a claim for compensation within 24 months from the accident date.
Do not make the mistake many police negligence victims make: that filing a claim is too expensive and demanding that it may not be worth it. Do not make any firm decisions before talking to a lawyer.
A good law firm would not be overly-focused on the fee at the beginning. After all, they only get paid when you win, and if you lose they lose. A brief case review can help you determine the chances of winning the claim.
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If you or someone you care about is involved in a police hot pursuit accident, you must not avoid pursuing compensation. The law protects you in more ways than one from such negligence and accidents. It is crucial, though, that you partner with a good lawyer with experience handling such cases.
Are you in Texas and need to file a claim against the police? Thompson Law may be just the firm to turn to so call 1-844-308-8180. The family-oriented law firm is best placed to provide you with a comprehensive free case review. Fill out our contact form and get a lawyer in 15 minutes or less.