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Compensation for Third Parties Injured During Police Chases

Posted on in Car Accidents

Compensation for Third Parties Injured During Police ChasesWhen a police officer pursues a driver who is attempting to flee, they do so knowing that the chase could put other drivers and pedestrians at risk of injury or death. If you are injured during a police chase, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against both parties. The party being chased is clearly liable if they directly caused your injury by colliding with you. They may still be liable if the police vehicle collided with you because they were the proximate cause of the chase. It is more difficult to prove that a police officer is liable for your injury. State law grants tort immunity to police officers for most actions in the line of duty. If you file a personal injury lawsuit against a police department, it will likely ask the court for summary judgment to dismiss the lawsuit. However, you should contest a summary judgment if the police officer’s actions were reckless.

Police Policy

Police departments have policies about when officers should initiate and terminate a high-speed chase. For instance, the city of Chicago’s policy states that officers need to balance the necessity of catching a fleeing party against the danger it could create for bystanders. Officers must consider factors such as whether:

  • They are in an area with a high volume of vehicles or pedestrians;
  • The chase requires driving at a speed that is unsafe for the area;
  • The weather or road conditions will make the pursuit more dangerous;
  • The suspect has already caused property damage; or
  • The suspect has been identified, allowing the officer to apprehend them later.

Chicago’s policy prohibits officers from chasing a subject who is suspected of a non-hazardous traffic offense. Violating these policies does not make a police department automatically liable for personal injuries, but it is evidence in determining whether the officer was willfully or wantonly reckless.

Proximate Cause

If the police vehicle was not directly involved in your accident, you can still establish their liability through proximate cause. The officer initiated the chase by attempting to stop the suspect and by continuing to pursue them once the suspect flees. You can argue that the pursuing officer caused the suspect to behave recklessly, which resulted in your injury. The officer may be partially responsible for your injuries if they were knowingly reckless in initiating the chase or not terminating it after recognizing that it was creating a dangerous situation.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer

It is difficult to obtain personal injury compensation from any government entity because the laws protect them. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can advise you on whether it is wise to pursue a lawsuit against the defendant. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

Source:

https://courts.illinois.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2019/1stDistrict/1181419.pdf

 

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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