Although infrequent, police chases do happen in Athens from time to time. When police are pursuing a suspect, car accidents are more likely to happen. Nearby drivers could get hit or wreck their car from having to swerve out of the way. Even the suspect being chased could crash and be injured in the accident. When someone is in a police chase crash, they may be able to sue for damages—even, in some cases, the suspect who crashed.
Depending on the situation, there are several different parties who could potentially be liable for a law enforcement vehicle pursuit crash. Here are a few of the individuals or organizations who could potentially be liable parties in a crash that happened as a result of a police chase.
The police officers pursuing a suspect could be held liable for a crash if they hit a car that was not involved in the chase, but was simply on the road at the same time. If a police officer speeds through an intersection at a red light and hits a car that has the right of way, the officer could be liable for damages.
If police officers break a law and cause an accident, you could sue them or the police department as a whole. Police do not have free rein to do whatever they need to do to catch a suspect when on a police chase, but we’ll discuss that in more detail later.
The suspect who is fleeing from police could also be held liable for a car accident if they crashed into a car or broke a traffic law that caused an accident while evading the police. The suspect may sideswipe cars and/or crash into the rear end of vehicles in the process of the police chase.
The fleeing suspect is often the party who is most likely to cause an accident because they probably do not care if they break additional laws or cause harm to others if they are already evading the police in a police chase.
Another driver could also be at fault for a police chase crash. If another driver on the road panicked during the police chase and swerved into another lane and hit a car because they were distracted, they could be held liable for the accident. The same could also be said for a driver who was watching the police chase instead of the road and rear-ended the car in front of them.
Each case is different, so you’ll have to discuss your specific scenario with a lawyer, but generally, being distracted or overwhelmed by a police chase is not an excuse for causing a car accident. Drivers are still responsible for their own actions on the road.
Government agencies can also be held responsible for a police chase crash. Sometimes, the “police” chasing the suspect are not police officers, but rather Georgia state troopers. These law enforcement officials can also cause accidents the same way local police can, but you’d need to sue the state government rather than the police department. If you get into an accident and a government agency is to blame, you’ll definitely need a good lawyer, because suing the government is not easy, and is not for the faint of heart. Luckily, Athens car accident lawyer Mike Rafi is not afraid of a challenging case.
Like we mentioned earlier, police and other law enforcement officers do not have free reign to break traffic laws during a police chase. Under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 40-6-6), certain rules must be followed by officers while in pursuit of a suspect. For instance, police vehicles have to slow down before running a red light or stop sign and determine if it’s safe to proceed through the intersection. They also must use a siren and a flashing light if they are going to violate basic traffic laws like speeding or running red lights, and they can only drive over the speed limit if they are not endangering other people’s safety or property.
If you’re attempting to sue law enforcement for a police chase crash, you’ll need to prove that they violated the rules outlined under the aforementioned Georgia law.
If you were injured in a police chase crash, Athens car accident lawyer Mike Rafi can help. These cases can be complex and difficult to win, but we’re experienced and not afraid of a challenge. We’re prepared to fight for justice for your injuries and get you the compensation you deserve. Call (706) 995-7547 to schedule your free consultation to discuss your legal options with an attorney.
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