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When A Police Chase Ends In Tragedy


It was a car chase just like in the movies.  Police had stopped a couple of vehicles for driving violations when they both took off in different directions.  One swerved across the median lines and smashed head-on into oncoming traffic.  Just like in the movies, the sounds and sights were spellbinding.  But unlike in the movies, the death of an innocent person who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time was very real, and that man’s family must live without him from now on.

Frequency of Fatal Police Car Chases

 High speed police chases occur all the time, with roughly 300 deaths resulting from them on an annual basis. About one-third of those killed were innocent victims of circumstance, while the other two-thirds were generally the persons fleeing the police, although some police lost their lives, as well.  These pursuits are not without controversy.  On the one hand, there is a real need to apprehend dangerous criminals. This must be weighed against the risks to officers and the public.  One study found that about 30 percent of pursuits result in property damage, and as many as 40 percent end with a collision. Injuries were not uncommon, but of course, nothing is worse than the agony of a fatality.

Who is Liable After a Police Chase? 

If you or a loved one has ever been seriously injured or killed due to a high speed police chase, you may be wondering what recourse you have to address the fiscal costs associated with the incident. The answer is, it depends.

The person being chased is the obvious first line of attack in a legal proceeding.  That motorist, like everyone else on the road, owed a duty of care to others on the road, and by evading police that duty of care was breached. Physical, as well as emotional injuries, could be addressed in a personal injury/wrongful death lawsuit.

The chasing officer(s) may be held liable, as well, although this is a more difficult case to make. It will be important to find out whether the officer(s) were following department and state protocols.  Such protocols inevitably include minimizing danger to the public.  If they were ignored, the officer(s), supervisors, or even the department itself might be liable.

Local municipalities could potentially be held liable if proper safeguards were not in place, or if officers had not been properly trained in pursuit maneuvers, procedures,  and policies.

Investigating the Incident 

At the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes, our experienced Baltimore personal injury attorneys are prepared to have your collision thoroughly investigated in order to determine the best routes moving forward.  To discuss the particulars of your case, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.



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