What to Do If Your Child is Injured in a Car Chase with Police
Movies have depicted high-speed police chases as necessary to catch criminals. Talented directors have created these movie scenes to be dramatic and engaging, building excitement in the audience when the police officers stop and arrest the bad guys. Rarely do they show the dangerous outcomes for innocent bystanders.
Since 1979, over 5,000 car passengers and bystanders have been caught up in a police chase that caused their deaths, including young children, teenage drivers, and the elderly, while thousands of others involved ended up with minor to severe injuries. When police officers engage in high speed car chases, their goal is to catch people they suspect of committing traffic violations or other crimes.
Unfortunately, police chases increase the chances for an accident to happen and hurt police officers, the people they’re after, and bystanders. If your vehicle was hit with your child in the car during a police chase, and your child sustained injuries, you have the right to seek compensation and justice for the pain your child endured. The following information will outline important details regarding police chases and how you can pursue damages.
When are Police Officers Allowed to Pursue a Car Chase?
Some law enforcement agencies across the U.S. understand the consequences that could arise in high-speed chases and have implemented restrictive policies that strongly urge their officers to avoid them, unless necessary. However, law enforcement agencies and state highway patrol departments may have different guidelines for when and how a police chase can occur.
By law, police in Florida are authorized to initiate a pursuit based on the suspects’ actions before the officer tries to pull over the vehicle. Officers can pursue violators who have committed serious offenses including:
- A felony offense
- Reckless driving
The decision to pursue must consider all factors in the situation such as:
- Road congestion
Are Police Officers Liable for Injuries?
Determining if a police officer is at fault for an accident that resulted in your child being injured is not easy. Victims in these types of accidents question who is responsible for medical bills and vehicle damage. In some cases, the offender who is fleeing from the cops will not have enough assets or insurance to cover the losses.
Then, what about the police officer’s liability for the injuries? The State of Florida’s legislative laws response to this question is complex. It is first recognized that an officer will not be held accountable for injuries unless they caused them through a lack of carelessness for what could impact others around them.
In accordance with Florida Statute 316.072(5)(b)3, officers operating vehicles are allowed to exceed speed limits as long as they do not put the lives of innocent people or property at risk. Even though officers can speed under certain circumstances, Florida Statute Section 316.072(5)(c) states that officers will not be protected from their negligence:
“The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle… from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his or her reckless disregard for the safety of others.”
With newer technology like dash cams and street surveillance, this could help raise objections to whether the police took appropriate safety measures in the chase. It could be discovered that the police officer failed to use sirens to alert vehicles nearby or that it wasn’t logical to act in the first place.
If it was found that the police officer involved in the chase that caused your injuries could’ve taken more suitable measures to handle the situation, then they could be held partially liable for the injuries endured.
How Can I Recover Damages Against Police Agencies?
If you believe that your child is a victim of an officer’s failure to uphold their duty, you may sue the city, state, or jurisdiction in which the officer is employed. You may also be able to sue the individual officer if you can prove that the accident was caused by the officer’s misconduct.
However, there are special laws that control the liability of the state, public employees, and the subdivisions within it. Your lawyer would need to determine whether the officer’s department is covered under certain state or city policies. Even if they are liable, there may be a limit to the amount of money you can receive.
Your child can be compensated for damages including:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Loss of future income
Since there are many laws in place that grant officers immunity, a personal injury claim against a police officer or department for injuries sustained in a chase can be highly complicated. It is imperative that you contact a skilled attorney to help you maximize your claim.
Police Car Chase Injuries Need Experienced Legal Representation
If the negligence of a police offer caused an injury to your child, you will need experienced legal representation to help you seek compensation. At The Umansky Law Firm, we can thoroughly support you in handling complicated cases like these.
The Umansky Law Firm has more than 100 years of combined experience representing car accident victims throughout Central Florida. We are here to guide you through this challenging situation and be of assistance in obtaining the best possible result. Give us a call anytime or complete our contact form for a free consultation with our personal injury team.