Police pursuits can put many innocent lives at risk. In a split second, police officers must make the choice whether to pursue a potentially dangerous criminal or forego the chase in order to ensure that the public remains safe. In some cases, police officers fail to follow their own internal procedures regarding a police chase. In other cases, even if a police officer followed the guidelines of their department, they may still have liability because of their decisions. The Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) may assign fault to police officers who dangerously or recklessly make decisions that endanger innocent lives as a result of a police chase.
If you suffered injuries from a police chase, an Austin accidents caused by police chase lawyer can help you understand your legal rights. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at (800) 598-7557 for a free consultation.
Risks of Police Chases
Police officers often face the difficult task of determining whether to pursue a potential criminal suspect who flees from law enforcement. These decisions are typically never easy ones—in an instant, a police officer must make a decision that can be a life-or-death choice. If they fail to pursue a criminal, they may be allowing a dangerous person to flee and cause harm to others at a later time. If they make the decision to pursue, they may injure or kill innocent people during the police chase.
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Austin Police Department Guidelines
According to Austin Police Department (APD) General Orders §214.1.1, police officers must make difficult decisions under unpredictable circumstances and must take into account the risk to the public when making the decision to engage in a vehicle pursuit of a suspect. Vehicle pursuits of criminal suspects are rarely predictable, and not all possible scenarios can be completely thought of beforehand. Police officers must simply remember to consider the totality of the circumstances and information provided at the time of their decision to pursue a suspect. Additionally, if a police officer makes the difficult decision to pursue a criminal suspect, they should take as much care as possible to ensure that the safety of the public is always maintained during the police chase.
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How High-Speed Police Chases Cause Harm
First, it is important to note that police officers have the legal right to pursue a suspect who is engaged in dangerous criminal activity. However, not all crimes are created equal, and police officers must take this into account when making the decision to chase a suspect.
Victims of police chases may include:
- Innocent persons wrongly accused or identified as a suspect
- A suspect of a minor or non-violent crime
- Motorists, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists in surrounding areas near the suspect
- Other police officers involved in the chase
Restrictions on Police Chases in Austin
While there are few official restrictions established by the Texas Department of Public Safety, police officers are allowed to engage in high-speed chases and even shoot at fleeing vehicles. Additionally, the regulations surrounding police chases do not make a great distinction between suspects of minor or petty crimes and dangerous suspects of violent crimes. However, in either case, fleeing from a police officer may be considered a felony under the law. It is important to understand that just because a police officer has the legal right to pursue a suspect, it may still not be an appropriate course of action.
If you or your loved one were injured as a result of a police chase, an Austin accidents caused by police chase lawyer can help with your next legal steps. To learn more, contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC today for a free case review.
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Filing a Claim Against a Government Entity
If you suffered losses due to a police chase, you will likely have to file a claim against the police department for any compensation. Because the police department is a government entity, there is a different set of rules and regulations regarding how and when a resident has the legal right to file a claim. In many cases, government entities have immunity regarding civil lawsuits. However, in the case of an egregious or dangerous action by a police officer, a victim may have the legal right to pursue a claim against the police department.
Some questions to consider when filing a claim against a government entity may include:
- Did law enforcement pursue a person who was only suspected of committing a minor crime?
- Did law enforcement choose to pursue a suspect when the risk to innocent lives was absolutely apparent?
- Did law enforcement follow their own internal guidelines?
- Did law enforcement fire any weapons at the suspect in public at any time?
- Did law enforcement cause injury, harm, or death to an innocent person or bystander?
The person pursued by police offices may be liable for your injuries, but this can vary by case and the factors at play. A lawyer familiar with accidents caused by a police chase can help you figure out which party is responsible.
An Austin Accidents Caused by Police Chase Lawyer Can Help
Filing a claim against a government entity can be legally complex and challenging. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC can help you understand your legal rights in this unique situation and ensure that your rights remain protected.
You may be able to pursue compensation from the city for your injuries and losses. Working together, we can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at (800) 598-7557 to speak with a member of our team.