While watching police chases on television or YouTube can be quite thrilling and exciting, being a witness in immediate proximity can be terrifying. As multiple police cars and the pursued vehicle drive recklessly in a high-speed chase, witnesses, bystanders, and other motorists can get hurt.
Hot pursuit chases often involve vehicles running red lights, speeding, and even traveling over sidewalks. Police chases often lead to auto accidents and injuries to bystanders, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and other motorists on the road. Unfortunately, police driving in hot pursuit of a suspect can result in wrongful death.
Fact: Across the U.S., law enforcement agencies conduct about 70,000 vehicle pursuits per year. Police chases kill an average of 355 people every year. Innocent bystanders account for about a third of these deaths.
But who can be liable for damages suffered by bystanders and innocent motorists during hot pursuits?
High-Speed Police Chase Involving a Stolen Vehicle in Tampa
A high-speed pursuit in Tampa ended when a man fleeing in a stolen car crashed into two vehicles. According to The Tampa Bay, the man was linked to two robberies in Temple Terrace and another location in Hillsborough County.
The 43-year-old man was taken into custody for questioning following the hot pursuit. The police chase ended when the suspect crashed into an off-duty sheriff’s SUV. The off-duty colonel and the drivers of other cars involved in the collision were not injured.
High-speed pursuits are extremely dangerous, which is why law enforcement agencies in Florida restrict police chases to cases involving violent felonies. In Tampa, police officers can pursue suspects in cases involving a violent felony and some cases of burglary.
Liability for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Hot Pursuits
When a high-speed police chase leads to personal injury or deaths, who is responsible for the resulting damages and losses? Under Florida law, you can sue the party who owed you a duty of care and breached that duty, which led to your injury or your loved one’s death.
When it comes to police chase-related injuries and deaths, there can be multiple liable parties:
- The chased suspect. Usually, the suspect in the pursued vehicle is the #1 at-fault party who can be held responsible for damages caused to bystanders and other drivers.
- The police department or officer. Generally, police departments and officers are immune from liability in accidents caused by hot pursuits. However, Florida imposes quite a few requirements for police chases. Failure to follow these strict protocols can make the police department or officer liable for any damages incurred by innocent motorists and bystanders.
- Public entities. In rare cases, a victim injured in a police chase can bring a claim against the state, city, county, or municipality. This might be the case when safety protocols for safety protocols are inconsistent or inadequate, or the public agency failed to prevent the criminal behavior of the pursued suspect.
Consult with our Tampa auto accident attorney to determine liability in your crash caused by a high-speed police chase. Contact The Turnbull Firm to evaluate your case. Call at 407-612-6464 or 863-324-3500 today.