Movies and TV shows glamorize police, but in the real world, many chases end in accidents that injure bystanders. That is why California police departments follow the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training guidelines on when they can pursue criminals in high-speed chases.
Despite their intent to protect the community by catching runaway criminals, police still have liability for the accidents that end police pursuits. They are responsible for keeping bystanders safe, which usually means stopping the pursuit if it enters a crowded area. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a police pursuit, you might have the right to file a lawsuit against the police department to recover compensation for your accident-related expenses. You might have your medical bills and property damage costs covered since you did not cause the accident that resulted in your injuries.
A San Francisco accidents caused by police chase lawyer can help you through the legal process of suing the police department. Contact the office of Ben Crump Law, PLLC, at 800-959-1444 to discuss your case with our team.
Understanding Your Rights
If you suffered injuries as a bystander in a police pursuit, you have the right to seek compensation from the police department for your expenses. The police department has an obligation to act in the best interest of the public. In this case, continuing the pursuit until it ended in an accident was not in the community’s best interest.
While the officer tried to apprehend the fugitive, they still have a responsibility to keep you safe. Since an officer caused the accident, you can hold the police department liable for your damages. Depending on where the accident happened, that officer might also face charges in criminal court for the accident. Regardless, you have the right under civil law to file a personal injury and property damage lawsuit to seek compensation.
For a free legal consultation with a police chase accidents lawyer serving San Francisco, call 800-959-1444
Steps You Can Take After Accidents Caused by Police Chases
To get the best results, you can take several steps after an accident caused by police pursuit. These steps include:
- Seek medical attention: The first step should always be to seek medical attention for yourself and anyone else involved. Quick medical intervention can save lives and minimize the potential medical problems that could arise after an accident.
- Document everything: When you can, document as much information about the accident as possible. Take pictures of the accident scene as possible and keep any documentation that you receive from the police or medical care providers. This information will become important later.
- Contact your insurance company: Inform your insurance company about your accident as soon as possible. There are steps that your insurance company needs to take, and many policies stipulate that you must let them know within a specific period.
This list does not cover every step that you could take after an accident. Whatever steps you take, consider seeking out guidance from a lawyer. Navigating the legal process can become complicated, and assistance from a San Francisco accidents caused by police chase lawyer could significantly impact your recovery. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today to learn more.
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Your Legal Options for Recourse
If a high-speed police pursuit caused your accident, you have the same rights as any other car accident victim. For instance, you might have grounds to file an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit against the pursued driver if they breached their duty of care to others on the road, and that breach resulted in the crash that caused your injuries.
You might also want to file a lawsuit against the police department. However, this lawsuit will not proceed in the same way that other civil cases progress. First, you must account for VEH § 17004.7, which protects police departments “from liability for civil damages for personal injury to or death of any person or damage to property” in certain circumstances.
If this statute does not apply to your situation, you still must follow special rules that the Judicial Council of California describes before you can file a lawsuit against a government agency.
The first step in your lawsuit is to file an administrative claim with the police department. Each department has a form that you must fill out and return, which will serve as the department’s notice to respond to the case. You have six months from the date of the accident to file the administrative claim.
Once you have filed your administrative claim, the police department has 45 days from that day to respond to your claim. Your next step depends on how the department responds to your claim. If it denies your claim, you have six months to file a lawsuit in civil court. If the department does not respond to your claim within the 45-day window, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. The department can also accept your claim in whole or in part, as set out in GOV § 912.6.
No matter their response, you might find it beneficial to speak with a car accident lawyer regarding your options.
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Although the police officer pursued a criminal intending to apprehend the lawbreaker, that does not absolve the officer of the responsibility to keep bystanders safe. If you suffered injuries in a police pursuit, you should not have to deal with the injuries and expenses on your own.
A San Francisco accidents caused by police chase lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve and relieve your financial burdens related to the accident. Call the team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at 800-959-1444 for a free consultation about your case.
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