Who's liable for injuries when police chases lead to car accidents?

police_chasePolicemen driving wildly in hot pursuit of a suspect may seem dramatic on television, but it can be terrifying in real life. Drivers of both the police cars and the pursued vehicle may be speeding, failing to stop at red lights, pulling illegal traffic maneuvers, and even traveling on grass and over sidewalks.

Any one of these behaviors can cause injury to other road users or pedestrians, and even cause the wrongful death of passers-by.

Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Crash After a Police Chase?

There are many different ways to determine liability for a Florida crash. In most cases, the party at fault is the one who had a duty of care to the person injured and who's found to be guilty of violating that duty.

With this in mind, the parties who are typically liable for causing police chase accidents are:

  • The chased suspect. All motorists owe a duty of care to other road users, and the dangerous driving behavior of a chase can be seen as a breach of that duty. The suspect can be named in a lawsuit if he or she collided with another car, or even if the suspect’s illegal maneuvers caused injuries or property damage. If a victim suffered emotional distress as well as physical injuries, the suspect may be liable for the cost of mental and emotional treatments.
     
  • Police officers and departments. While it may be more difficult to sue law enforcement officers for injury compensation, it's not impossible. States have specific requirements detailing pursuit procedures that must be followed—and these involve not placing anyone’s life or property at undue risk. A person who is injured in a collision with the police car; someone who was struck by a car swerving out of the path of the police car; and even the offenders themselves can file suits against police officers or the police department after an injury. Finally, the suspect’s family can pursue a lawsuit against the police officers or their supervisors if the suspect was killed in the pursuit.
     
  • Governmental employers. Depending on the circumstances, the municipalities where the police departments are located can be held liable for crash injuries if there weren't safeguards in place to prevent the behavior or if the crash resulted from a failure to adequately train police officers in pursuit procedures.

If you were hurt in a car accident, we can help you determine who should pay for your medical bills and lost income. Contact one of our experienced Florida injury attorneys today by filling out the quick contact form on this page.