Already this year, the San Antonio area has seen multiple car accidents resulting from police chases. These events can encourage fleeing drivers to travel at high speeds, make unsafe maneuvers, and otherwise violate traffic laws that aim to promote safety on the roads. Unfortunately, when a crash does happen, it is often innocent bystanders who are injured. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash related to a police chase, an attorney can help you pursue compensation.
National Statistics for Police Chase Accidents
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has closely examined police vehicle pursuits and their effects in recent years, most recently publishing a special report in 2017. Over the 20-year time period covered by the report, researchers found an average of 355 annual fatalities due to police chases. While occupants of the vehicle being pursued accounted for the majority of these fatalities, 33 percent of those who lost their lives were uninvolved bystanders. The report also found a similar percentage for bystander injuries.
Liability in a Police Chase Accident
If you have been injured as a bystander because of a police chase, there is a good chance that your injuries are due to no fault of your own. However, it can be complicated to determine who is at fault and how or if you can pursue compensation through a personal injury claim. The answer to these questions may depend on whether you were injured due to the actions of the suspect, an officer in pursuit, or a combination of the two.
Suspects in a police chase often make risky decisions out of desperation in their efforts to avoid apprehension and arrest, and these unsafe choices can directly contribute to an accident. For example, a driver may weave in and out of traffic, travel in the wrong direction on the road, or act without fully considering the surroundings. Drivers in police chases may also be under the influence of alcohol or drugs that impair their abilities, further endangering those in the surrounding area.
However, it is important to note that law enforcement officers may also bear some responsibility for injuries that result from police pursuit. Most law enforcement agencies have policies outlining when a chase is appropriate, which may require an officer to look for certain criteria or make a decision based on whether the benefit of the pursuit outweighs the possible safety risks. If an officer acts recklessly in pursuing a suspect, he or she can be held responsible for injuries to bystanders.
Contact a New Braunfels Car Accident Lawyer
Police chases can be complicated situations, but that does not mean that those who are injured have no options for recovery. At The Bettersworth Law Firm, our experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney can help you investigate the circumstances of the accident in which you were injured to determine who was at fault and figure out the best way to proceed. Contact us today at 830-443-9193 for a free consultation regarding your case.