Police Not Immune from Police Chase Accident Lawsuits
If you have lost a loved one as a result of a police chase, you may believe it is impossible to demand compensation from the police department, the state troopers, or the city, especially if your loved one committed a traffic infraction. You may believe that the police were entitled to the chase, and that the law protects them. As two Florida cases show, police chases are not only potentially fatal and dangerous, but they can violate police department policy and justify a wrongful death lawsuit.
Police Officer Drives 145 Miles Per Hour, Results in Two Deaths
Two years ago from late February, a Florida woman got a call no mother wants to receive. Her son had been riding in the front of a group of motorcycles when a Clearwater Police Officer decided he was speeding. The police officer sped faster than the motorcyclists to catch up, clocking in at 145 miles per hour himself. He switched his siren off. He switched his video off. Seconds after the officer’s dash cam footage ended, a state trooper, who was guarding a construction zone, pulled directly into the bike’s path. The crash claimed the motorcyclist’s life, and the life of his female passenger.
Even two years later, it was not too late for the family of the motorcyclist to seek justice, even from the police department and the state troopers themselves. Just in time for the deadline to file suit, the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging that the officer violated policy by chasing the motorcyclist instead of catching him later and issuing a citation. The police department seems to agree: they reprimanded the officer for violating department policy. Nevertheless, after two years with no settlement, the family has decided to demand justice through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Police Officer Drives the Wrong Way, Results in Four Deaths
In another Florida case, not two but four individuals were killed as a result of another high-speed police chase. The officer was in pursuit of a car driving the wrong way on I-95, and it is alleged that the officer led the car’s driver to believe his life was in danger, forcing him to flee into opposing traffic. The officer claims that he did not follow him on the wrong side of the road, but his own radio transmission suggests otherwise.
The victims have filed a wrongful death suit against the city and police department, but the case has not reached either verdict or settlement yet. In the meantime, the families may find some justice in the fact that the officer is no longer driving a police car. In early March, the South Florida police officer was finally fired from the police force nearly two years after his involvement in the brutal crash.
In Florida, cases like these filed against government entities can only obtain a maximum of $200,000. However, if a jury finds that more compensation is warranted, the families of the victims can petition the state legislature to enforce the full award.
These two cases show that the police are not immune from lawsuits when they drive recklessly, even if in pursuit of a person accused of a traffic infraction. Further, these two cases also show that justice can still be sought even if time has passed. Depending on the applicable statute of limitations, the lawsuit you thought you waited too long to file may still be valid. Check with your Fort Lauderdale vehicle accident and wrongful death attorney Scott Newmark today to find out whether and how you can still seek your rightful compensation.