High-speed chases are an unfortunate yet common part of law enforcement duties in the United States. While these pursuits may be necessary, they also involve a significant amount of risk to anyone in the vicinity of the pursuit, such as the fleeing suspect, their passengers, pedestrians, bystanders, and other motorists. Although the essential purpose of a high-speed pursuit is to apprehend a fleeing suspect, officers should evaluate whether they can accomplish this apprehension by safer alternatives. The heavy flow of traffic and the number of bikers and pedestrians make high-speed police pursuits in Washington D.C. a dangerous prospect.
For instance, federal prosecutors in Washington D.C. recently charged an officer with various criminal charges following the death of a 20-year-old moped driver. According to one news source, police were pursuing the man because he rode his moped on a sidewalk without a helmet. The chase ensued into an alley, and when the man was exiting the narrow road, he slammed into another vehicle. Under Washington D.C. police regulations, officers cannot engage in a high-speed pursuit over minor traffic violations. The officers involved in the accident pleaded not guilty.
While the above report focuses on the criminal charges, these situations often elicit civil personal injury and wrongful death claims against law enforcement agencies. Unlike other types of accidents, those involve police cars typically involve complex governmental immunity laws. The Metropolitan Police Department police pursuit laws maintain that officers engaged in a pursuit must consider protecting human life and property. These officers must continually assess the conditions of the pursuit to determine whether to continue to stop the vehicle chase.
Officers who fail to abide by these standards may not successfully claim governmental immunity as a defense to a personal injury lawsuit. However, exceptions exist when the officer was responding to an emergency call, involved in a rescue operation, in immediate pursuit of a fleeing felon, or responding to a fire alarm.
Can an Accident Victim Sue After Being Hit by a Police Car?
After an accident with a police officer, the victim or their surviving loved ones may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent or liable party, including police officer as well as the police department or local government. Damages in these cases typically include medical expenses, funeral expenses, burial costs, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering damages. Cases involving police vehicles involve the complex interplay of various Washington D.C. personal injury and wrongful death laws. It is important that injury vicitms contact an attorney to learn about their rights and remedies.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Washington D.C. Accident with a Government Vehicle?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died in an accident because of another’s negligence, contact the Washington D.C. injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen. The attorneys on our team have extensive experience handling and recovering damages from at-fault parties, governmental entities, business owners, and insurance companies. Our firm handles Washington D.C. car accident cases, as well as those involving premises liability, dog bites, medical malpractice, and more. Contact our office at 800-654-1949 to schedule a free initial consultation with a Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney on our team today.