A routine traffic stop recently led to a police chase starting at the intersection of Shaenfield Road and Loop 1604 in the northwest area of San Antonio. A Bexar County deputy tried to make a traffic stop, when the driver took off, leading law enforcement on a chase where speeds got up to 100 mph before eventually coming to a stop on Huebner Road. No injuries were reported, but this is not necessarily the norm, especially when dealing with such elevated speed. If you are involved in a police chase, you may face not only criminal charges, but also civil litigation if the chase results in injury or property damage.
Results of Chases Can Be Serious
Data analyzed by the Texas Tribune and the San Antonio Express-News shows that as a rule, Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) officers engage in more high-speed chases than law enforcement does nationwide, as well as having more freedom to set up roadblocks and use more aggressive pursuit tactics. While regular police are generally not permitted to, for example, use their weapons during pursuits, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department permits firearm usage “as a last resort,” and DPS officers are permitted to shoot at fleeing suspects as well as utilize roadblocks.
There are plenty of reasons why giving chase to a fleeing suspect is important, but at the same time, there is collateral damage, at a level that many find unacceptable. During the period of the data analyzed by the papers, an estimated $8.4 million in property damage was caused, as well as 1,300 accidents, though fault for each incident was not recorded. Anyone injured in an accident caused during a police chase might conceivably have a claim to bring for medical bills or property damage.
If You Are Injured
If you have been injured due to the negligence of either a fleeing suspect or law enforcement, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and other causes of action, but you may face certain obstacles. There are specific criteria that a plaintiff must show have been met in order to establish liability for the defendant, most notably that you must establish the defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care, and that they did not do so, as evidenced by their conduct.
If you believe that a law enforcement officer or official was liable in your accident, you should be aware that the Texas Tort Claims Act places restrictions on who can sue a state officer or entity, and when they can do so. Generally, a law enforcement unit or officer can be held liable if they were (1) acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the crash – in other words, they were not on their own business; (2) any damage or injury results from the operation of a motor-driven vehicle; and (3) if the officer were a private citizen, the facts are such that they would still be liable under Texas law. These points can be difficult to prove in court, but it is far from impossible to do so.
Enlist an Experienced Law Firm
While the chase from Shaenfield Road did not result in any injuries, the next one (and there will be a next one) might end more tragically. If you have been injured in a police-involved accident, contacting a dedicated personal injury lawyer can help you make sense of your options on what to do next. The skilled New Braunfels auto accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are experienced in these cases and will work hard for you and your loved ones. Call our office today at 888-392-0039 to set up a free consultation.