Police officers have a duty to enforce the law, and sometimes they must pursue dangerous suspects to protect the public from harm. Police chases at high speeds can also put the public in danger. Officers must weigh the seriousness of an alleged crime and the danger to the public if the suspect were to escape against the danger that a high-speed chase could create.
If you were involved in an accident that was caused by a police chase, you might have suffered serious injuries, including broken bones, head trauma, whiplash, cuts, and possibly even lost limbs or paralysis. You may have had to spend time in the hospital and may be unable to work. You may be able to return to your job once your injuries have healed, or the accident may have caused a permanent disability that will prevent you from ever again performing the type of work you used to do.
If you were injured because an officer who was pursuing a suspect violated the Dallas Police Department’s high-speed chase policy and put the public at risk, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the police department, and possibly also against the officer and/or the suspect, to seek financial compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. A Dallas accidents caused by police chase lawyer can explain the law as it applies to your situation and advise you on how to proceed. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC, at 800-959-1444 to discuss your case with a member of our team.
How People Can Be Injured in a Police Chase
At high speeds, a fleeing driver may make sudden turns and change lanes without signaling. The suspect or a police officer may lose control of a vehicle and crash into another car. Drivers who happen to be on the road while a high-speed chase is taking place may swerve to get out of the way and collide with other vehicles, roadway dividers, buildings, or other objects, or they may go off the road entirely.
A police chase can injure the driver of the fleeing vehicle. That person may have committed a crime, or the officer may be pursuing the wrong vehicle. The police officer may have made a mistake, or the person who called the police might have provided inaccurate information about the suspect’s vehicle.
Passengers in the vehicle that is being pursued may also be injured. They may be accomplices in a crime, or they may be completely innocent. They may be victims who were kidnapped or carjacked, or they may be family members of the suspect, including children.
A high-speed pursuit can also injure people who had nothing to do with the chase or the alleged crime, but who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. They may be drivers or passengers in other vehicles or people who were walking or biking in the area.
For a free legal consultation with a police chase accidents lawyer serving Dallas, call 800-959-1444
Rules on Police Chases in Dallas, Texas
Dallas Police Department General Order 301.00 attempts to balance the need to apprehend suspects with the need to protect the public from possible harm. The policy limits the circumstances under which a police officer may engage in a pursuit.
A police officer may only initiate a pursuit if:
- The officer has probable cause to believe that a felony involving the use or threat of physical force or violence has been, or is about to be, committed.
- If the officer is assisting another law enforcement agency that has initiated a pursuit under those circumstances.
- If another agency initiated a pursuit that has entered the City of Dallas and only one police vehicle is involved.
- If an officer saw a suspect discharge a firearm or display a firearm in a threatening manner in a public place.
- If the officer reasonably believes that the need to apprehend the suspect outweighs the risk of collision, injury, or death to any person.
When deciding whether to initiate a pursuit, a police officer must consider:
- Road and weather conditions.
- Capabilities of the police car and the suspect’s vehicle.
- How serious the offense is.
- Whether other people are in the police car.
- The suspect’s age.
- Whether the suspect’s identity is known.
- Whether the officer can maintain control of the police car.
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Liability for Injuries Caused by a Police Chase
Under the Texas Tort Claims Act, § 101.021, you can sue a governmental unit, such as a police department, for personal injury due to an employee’s negligence. As long as the employee was operating while on duty, they would be responsible for the injuries anyway, and if the policed department would be liable for the personal injury under Texas law, if it were a private person, you could have a case.
Although the suspect may share liability for the crash, it may be more difficult to get compensation from the suspect than it would be to obtain a financial award from the police department.
How an Attorney May Be Able to Help You Pursue Justice
A Dallas accidents caused by police chase lawyer can review the facts of the case and explain your legal rights. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, can interview you and any witnesses to the crash or the chase that led up to it. We can review police video footage, as well as any video from traffic cameras or business surveillance cameras that may have recorded all or part of the chase and the accident. If a police officer violated departmental policy on pursuits, we might be able to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries, lost income, and pain and suffering.
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Contact a Dallas Accidents Caused by Police Chase Lawyer
The statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit against a government entity is shorter than the timeframe to file a lawsuit in most other circumstances. If you decide to sue the Dallas Police Department, you will have to file a claim within six months of the date of your injuries, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, § 101.101.
Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC, as soon as possible by calling 800-959-1444, so our team will have time to investigate the circumstances that led to the accident and build a case on your behalf.