Police chases make for great television and exciting movies. The “Fast and the Furious” franchise has managed to take a car chase to the next level. However, much like many of the other crazy and unbelievable stunts synonymous with the franchise, some things are better left for the big screen than attempting them in real life.
Much like public police shootouts, innocent bystanders often fall victim to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. For this reason, police departments in major cities across the country have changed their policies to ban law enforcement personnel from engaging in a car chase with a fleeing suspect, in order to prevent often caused collateral damage.
It is not that authorities do not have an interest in catching fleeing motorists. It is just they realize they can simply radio ahead to set up a road block utilizing state of the art vehicle disabling equipment without putting others in unnecessary danger from a car crash, which could result in serious personal injury and property damage. Some of these anti-vehicle devices are designed to deflate tires, such as self-expanding spike strips, which a single officer can throw into the roadway, so the device can unfold itself and span the entire surface in a matter of seconds. There are also new electronic devices developed by the military and now used by local law enforcement, which use vehicle mounted transmitters to actually disable all electronics in a car, causing it to shut down.
Unfortunately, not all law enforcement agencies have adopted this usually safer approach.
According to a recent news article from the News Record, a Winston-Salem police officer was injured while chasing a fleeing motorist with his police cruiser. A police spokesperson says officers responded to a 911 call from a woman who alleged a suspect was holding her prisoner. Officers located suspect, and when he did not stop, proceeded to chase him, resulting in a car accident on U.S. 52 close to MLK Jr. Drive. After the crash, suspect fled on foot and was soon apprehended.
As our Winston-Salem car accident lawyers can explain, if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident as a result of a police chase, you may have a case against the police and/or municipality and the driver fleeing from police. With respect to the driver, it will be easier to pursue damages. However, there many be additional complications in filing a lawsuit against a municipal government.
The reason it is often harder to sue a government stems from both the doctrine of sovereign immunities and, in some cases, the 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Sovereign immunities provide protection to government actors in civil lawsuits, including personal injury cases.
Legal scholars have long believed in order for a government agency to properly function, it should not have to be in constant worry it could be sued for negligence during necessary conduct to make the system work efficiently. However, there are exceptions to the doctrine of sovereign immunities that may apply to your situation, depending upon the facts.
The 11th Amendment may also come into play if a state agency, such as the state police, was involved in the accident. A state may not be sued in federal court without a state’s consent. There are ways around this, as well, such as suing troopers and agency officials in their personal capacity.
Contact the Winston-Salem, North Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Winston-Salem police car involved in accident during pursuit , May 1, 2015, News Record
More Blog Entries:
Crusoe v. Davis – Hearsay in Motor Vehicle Accident Litigation, March 17, 2015, Winston-Salem Car Accident Lawyer Blog