Police chases happen all the time, and in many of them, innocent bystanders get injured or killed. Each year in the U.S., around 420 people die in police chases, and the majority of them are those not involved in the chase. In Pennsylvania, around 10 people die each year in police chases, with one or two being innocent bystanders.
According to a report in U.S.A Today, the majority of police chases happen with the suspect having committed a misdemeanor or a traffic violation. Others feel that by letting them go, it would embolden others to do the same and endanger the public more than a police chase would.
Either way, the fact is that police chases do happen and innocent people get injured.
Two Kids Hurt in Police Chase the Caused Multi-Vehicle Crash
A Pennsylvania State Police chase ended in the destruction of several vehicles and two injured children in Germantown. Police say that the chase started from an attempted traffic stop on I-76 and ended in the 5200 block of Morris Street.
Police allege the suspect that at one point the suspect threw a vehicle out of the car that was later recovered by police. Witnesses in Germantown say that the chase reached very high speeds and that they wondered if it was necessary for the police to keep giving pursuit.
The chase ended with several smashed vehicles as the target car slammed into a row of parked cars sending one in the air on top of two other cars. A 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were hit by one of the parked cars and sustained serious injuries. They were immediately rushed to the hospital where their condition is unknown at the time of this report.
Liability in Police Chases in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the government has protection against lawsuits form the public through a doctrine called sovereign immunity. However, they also passed another law that allows for some lawsuits based on negligence by the police.
Police chases fall under those exceptions, but the injured person must be an innocent bystander and prove that the police officer was negligent. If so, then those injured can collect compensation from the government. But proving negligence against police acting in the course of their duties is sometimes difficult.
Innocent Bystander v. Suspect
If the injured person is the suspect, then the law prevents them from collecting damages when they were in flight fleeing police or resisting arrest. This makes it very difficult for the suspect to prevail against the police for injuries in a chase.
When the injured is an innocent bystander, then the police owe them a greater duty of care, and an injured bystander needs only to prove that the officer was negligent in his or her actions. However, negligence in a police chase is difficult to prove because the injured person must show that the decisions made in the heat of the moment and often in a split second were outside what a reasonable police officer would have done under the same or similar circumstances.
This is tough to do because the police also have a duty to protect the public, to operate in their normal course of police business, and do so under the stress and fast-paced environment of the circumstances.
Liability against the Suspect
An innocent bystander might be able to make a claim against the suspect who led the police on a chase, and this only takes proving that the suspect acted with negligence and that their negligence caused the injuries.
If that person has insurance, then the injured might be able to collect against their policy. If the person doesn’t have insurance, then the victim might be able to make a claim against their own uninsured and underinsured motorist’s coverage, if they have that provision in their policy.
Contact a Philadelphia Auto Accident Lawyer.
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