When police officers are in pursuit of a suspect, their full attention is on apprehending that individual. We all want our law enforcement to be aware, alert, and focused on the task at hand. What we don’t want is for innocent bystanders to suffer injuries or property damage as a result of a police pursuit.
At a time when law enforcement is cracking down on distracted driving, many people are concerned about the distractions that law enforcement themselves face when pursuing a suspect. This has led many to consider what they can do if they have been hit by a police car during a pursuit. Who is liable?
I Was Hit by a Police Car – What Can I Do?
If you were hit by a police car while the officer was pursuing a suspect, there are a few factors to be considered in terms of liability. Consider the following:
Liability of the Suspect
Anyone operating a vehicle has a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians. That means that the suspect who is fleeing, if he or she is driving, has a duty of care and could be held liable in a civil lawsuit. In these cases, the driver who instigated the chase is often required to compensate anyone hit for their injuries or property damage.
Liability of Police
Some states and jurisdictions have specific guidelines prohibiting police chases. Other states allow chases if necessary, but recognize limits to the damage that is reasonable. That means that a police officer who injures others or causes extreme property damage can be held liable.
Law enforcement agencies often use the defense of causation when up against a personal injury lawsuit. That means that they deny liability based on the fact that they did not cause the situation that turned injurious. Instead, it was the suspect who caused the situation. In these situations, the court must determine if the officer engaged in reckless behavior outside what was reasonable for the situation.
Any kind of legal case involving law enforcement is complicated. To find out what your legal options may be, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your accident and injuries.