You've heard the cases on the news. Police attempt to pull over a motorist for what's supposed to be a minor traffic infraction. Instead of stopping, the motorist takes off at a fast rate of speed through a residential neighborhood or busy city streets.
The next thing you hear, the motorist or police officer strikes another vehicle or a pedestrian in his or her path. If you've lost a loved one who's been struck and killed in one of these situations, you may be wonder what recourse you have to sue for damages associated with his or her loss.
Every motorist who takes to the road has an unspoken obligation, known in the legal arena as a "duty of care," to all other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists who share the road with them. Any motorist who drives either recklessly or negligently can be accused of having violated this duty that he or she supposed to uphold.
It's on these grounds that the heirs that a deceased motorist can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent motorist.
What happens if the police cause a motorist's injuries or death though as they pursue a driver as part of a police chase? Can they be sued for damages?
Most legal experts argue that police aren't required to exercise a duty of care in the same way that average motorists are. Judges, however, in recent years in many jurisdictions, have ruled that police must weigh the gravity of the suspect's alleged offense in combination with the population density and road conditions of the area in which they're being pursued.
Many judges have ruled in favor of plaintiffs suing police in wrongful death matters in which it seemed like alternatives to taking a suspect is custody were not explored. This has led many judges to conclude that police chases become negligent if they put the public in danger or if they're carried out when there's little potential of the suspect actually being caught.
If your loved one has suffered debilitating injuries or has died as a result of becoming entangled in a police chase, then a Los Lunas attorney can advise you of who you may wish to sue in your case.
Source: FindLaw, "Who's liable for police chase injuries?," Aditi Mukherji, accessed April 27, 2018