Property Damage and Injuries Due to a Police Chase

A police chase often causes a certain amount of harm as collateral damage along the way as the driver leading the chase smashes into buildings, destroys private property, causes pedestrian or other drivers’ injuries and destruction to the roads. Understanding liability in these situations is important so that the proper person or entity pays for the expense.

The actual police chase is not permissible in certain locations due to the potential for such devastating damage when chasing someone on the roads or in traffic. The local law enforcement department will use other means of tracking and apprehending the criminal element. However, in the event of a police chase, the damage caused is often severe. Knowing which party will pay for the expense is important to those affected such as pedestrians, shop owners and the city for broken roads and destroyed sidewalks. Sorting out liability and compensation generally falls to the lawyer in these circumstances.

Police Chase Liability

In most situations, the driver already owes pedestrians, other passenger drivers and even cyclists the debt that is the duty of care. Breaching the duty leads to a compensation claim through litigation in the courts. However, negligence and reckless driving such as in a police chase could provide the same elements necessary for the breach of duty owed to everyone the driver passes. Because this driver would remain at fault for the duration of the chase, he or she is often responsible for paying back those harmed and the destruction caused through the pursuit.

The Suspect in the Chase

The driver in a police chase that leads the incident owes the duty of care, but he or she may also act negligently during the travel. He or she may use the opportunity of others on the road, on sidewalks or items to delay police in the chase, cause additional harm or put others in danger. The more serious the circumstances of the speeding journey, the worse the charges may occur against the driver. He or she may act intentionally to damage property or injure others. This could lead to both criminal and civil charges with multiple claims against him or her.

Liability rests on negligence, negligence per se and infliction of duress or distress to others. If the driver triggers liability in negligence, he or she engaged in careless and reckless driving that did cause at least some form of physical injury or property damage along the chase. Speeds that are far greater than the limit in the location may lead to negligence per se situations, and the person behind the wheel could incur additional charges for breaking additional laws. Medical injuries could cause negligent infliction of emotional or psychological distress against another person. This may lead to the compensation payouts for harming another person even if he or she did not sustain physical harm.

Liability of the Police

While many states do not associate the liability of a police chase with the officers in pursuit, some do not permit the agents to enter into a chase. Other states ensure a broader power in the duty of care to others when exercising the power to apprehend criminals, but other locations may hold the cops negligent in this duty of care if they cause untold damage, injure others or destroy property. A state supreme court may require officers to drive in a reasonably careful way even if chasing after a criminal. This depends on the circumstances and laws of the area.

Liability in a police chase may connect the cops to a duty of care to both bystanders and the suspects. This would require the police officers to remain within the letter of the law and not harm anyone unreasonably. Some states require agents to exercise caution and assess the situation. If a safer alternative exists to apprehend the criminal element, the officers should take it instead of initiating the pursuit. These circumstances depend on certain factors such as the number of bystanders in the area, the road conditions and what offense the criminal commits before driving off. Some courts will defer to the judgment of the officer and remove liability from him or her.

Legal Help in a Police Chase

Some individuals that commit a crime and enter into a police chase may require the need for a lawyer to decrease or eliminate the compensation paying out for damages. Through legal help, the individual may lower how much he or she must pay for the damage caused.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
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