Injured During A Police Chase: Am I Eligible For Compensation?
Who doesn’t love car chasing scenes in movies? They can give you a rush even if you’re just sitting comfortably in the movie theatre. But as cool as they look on screen, in real life police officers aren’t exactly allowed to do whatever they want when in pursuit of a suspect.
And unfortunately, when police chases happen in real life, they could potentially end with injuries or even casualties. According to the FBI, about 42% of these casualties are innocent third parties caught in the crossfire.
If you get injured or a loved one gets killed because of a police chase, who is liable?
What Does the Law Say?
Missouri statute 544.157 clearly states that the police can participate in vehicular pursuits as long as they respect a set of standards:
- The pursuit has to be supervised;
- There have to be set procedures for coordinating the pursuit with other jurisdictions, as well as for determining which vehicle is under pursuit and how many police cars are needed;
- There must be a set of guidelines that accounts for public safety during these police chases.
So the statute clearly says any police pursuit must follow a set of rules designed to keep innocent bystanders safe. However, police chases are very unpredictable. Although the police officers may be doing everything they can to ensure the safety of citizens, no guidelines can account for every single variable.
What Happens in Case of an Accident?
If you get injured as a result of a police chase, you are most likely wondering if you can get compensated for your pain and suffering. And if so, from whom?
In this context, there are three possible liable parties:
1. The Suspect
If they are being chased by police, it’s likely for the suspect to demonstrate erratic driving behavior and not pay attention to safety and traffic laws. As a result, the suspect may also injure someone while trying to flee from the police.
2. The Police Officers or Police Departments
If the police officers are negligent and did not take proper precautions to ensure citizen safety, they could be liable for compensation. Additionally, if the order came from the department, but nobody ensured the pursuit could be made safely, the entire department could be held liable.
3. Government Entities or Employees
If a government institution failed to establish safe police pursuit guidelines or did not properly train the officers in their jurisdiction, these institutions may be liable for your pain and suffering.
Your Next Steps
If you get injured because of a police chase, you should contact a St. Louis auto accident attorney and discuss your situation with them. They can help you identify the liable party and file a claim against them. Going against police departments or government officials is extremely complicated, and you need the assistance of an experienced lawyer.