On the afternoon of February 15th, a Delaware resident was charged with vehicular manslaughter following a police chase. The incident began at around 3 pm, when police officers received information about a reckless driver who displayed signs of impairment. The report noted that the driver was swerving along Interstate 71.
A police helicopter followed the vehicle along the interstate until deputies were able to locate it. When deputies pulled over the driver, he initially complied. However, he drove off after a state trooper pulled behind the deputy for assistance. This led to a police chase.
The driver eventually ran a stop sign on Zuber Road, and later crashed the vehicle into a guardrail. His passenger was fatally injured in the wreck. The driver later admitted that he had heroin and methamphetamine in his system.
This devastating incident raises questions about responsibility during police chases. Many people are inclined to wonder who covers damages and injuries if an accident occurs during a high-speed chase. The true answer to this is complicated, due to the many factors that are involved.
When Suspects are Liable
When suspects are involved in a police chase, they often forget about the safety of bystanders or avoiding property damage. This often leads suspects to make reckless driving decisions in order to avoid contact with police officers.
Due to these reckless driving behaviors, suspects may be liable for injury or damages when:
- The suspect gets in an accident with another vehicle
- The suspect’s reckless driving causes property damage
- The suspect’s reckless driving leads to injury or fatality of a bystander
- The suspect demonstrates negligence by ignoring speed limits
- An injured victim suffers emotional distress
When Law Enforcement Officers May Be Liable
Typically, it is more difficult for a law enforcement agent to be considered liable during a police chase. Oftentimes, police officers are not considered liable for accidents resulting from the pursuit of a suspect. However, law enforcement agents are not protected from the law entirely.
In some states, police may be liable for injuries or damages if they:
- Choose to pursue a chase where the risk outweighs the reward
- Do not stop the pursuit, even if a supervisor has instructed them to do so
- Fire weapons at moving vehicles absent a risk of death or serious injury
- Accidentally injure or kill a bystander
These are only a few of the ways police officers can be held liable for injuries or damages. Every situation is unique. For this reason, it is important for victims to contact a lawyer to determine if a valid personal injury claim exists.
When Others are Liable
Although police officers and suspects are primarily responsible for the events of a police chase, government employers may also be considered liable. Government employers are responsible for police officer’s protocol and training. Therefore, if government employers do not train police officers on proper safety precautions, they may be considered partially responsible for the events that occur during a police chase.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for Those Injured in Police Chases
If you were seriously injured in an accident caused by a high-speed case, you are urged to contact an experienced Delaware car accident lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Our lawyers are determined to fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-8488 or 302-888-1221 for a free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, including the areas of Wilmington, Dover, Middletown, and Newark.