Philadelphia Police Chase Accident Lawyer
How Our Lawyers Can Help After a Police Chase Accident
Areas We Serve
- Center City, Philly
- Northeast Philadelphia
- South Philadelphia
- West Philadelphia
- North Philadelphia
Parties Who Could Be Liable
The Fleeing Suspect
If the fleeing suspect’s car was the vehicle that injured you and damaged your car, the suspect may be liable for your damages if they were negligent or reckless in causing the accident.
If the police car caused your damages, those officers will likely claim that “but for” the suspect’s flight, they would not have pursued, so the suspect is ultimately responsible.
The suspect is a malfeasor, even if they are innocent of the charge the police pursued them for, because they created danger to other people and property by fleeing and thereby breached their duty to them.
The Police Officers or Department
Those injured in police car chases have a limited opportunity to sue the police for negligence under their state’s sovereign immunity laws. For example, in Pennsylvania, the Sovereign Immunity Act of 1980 provides that as a general rule, the Commonwealth is immune from lawsuits, with nine exceptions – one being the operation of any motor vehicle in the possession or control of an agent of the state, such as the police.
Plaintiffs suing the police for negligence under the Sovereign Immunity Act can recover the maximum of $250,000 or $1,000,000 in the aggregate, if there are more than one plaintiff. Plaintiffs in police chase accident cases may recover the following types of damages:
- past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity
- pain and suffering
- medical and dental expenses
- loss of consortium
- property losses
Parties Injured in a police chase might also consider suing the police in federal court under Section 1983, which provides that government actors are not immune from lawsuits if they are reckless or their actions shock the conscious.
Those who maintain squad cars and their managers may be at fault if the car did not perform as expected in the police chase, causing you damages.
Those who create police policy, likely administrators, could also be liable if the policy was not effectively disseminated, if superiors turned a blind eye to police infractions, or if the policy was insufficient to prevent officers from driving negligently or recklessly.
Depending upon where you live and the type of auto insurance you have, your own insurance policy may compensate you for damages in a police chase accident.
Determining Cause and Liability
Consider the Statute of Limitations
You usually have two years to file a lawsuit based on damages from a car accident. There are additional requirements when you sue a government actor.
For example, in Pennsylvania, the Sovereign Immunity Act provides that within six months after an injury to his person or property, a plaintiff must give written notice of the injury to the Commonwealth or government unit. The Act further provides that if a plaintiff fails to file the notice within six months their lawsuit is barred.
When Can Police Engage in a Chase?
Generally, state and local police agencies are free to set their own policies on when to pursue suspects fleeing in a vehicle and when not to.
In Pennsylvania, this issue is governed by Title 75 section 6342. The law states briefly that all police departments shall have a written policy for motor vehicle pursuits, and then provides guidelines as to what that policy should include. The law also expressly provides that the policies shall be confidential and “shall not be made available to the public.”
Causation Disputes in an Injury Trial
Lawyers for the police who gave pursuit will argue that the police did not cause your damages, rather, the fleeing suspect did. A jury may be attracted to that “good guy-bad guy” argument, so it is important especially in a Section 1983 case to get evidence of police conduct during the pursuit. You must show they acted recklessly to prevail.
What driving conduct is considered reckless? Perhaps pursuing drivers suspected of a petty crime at high speeds is reckless, since the collar is low-value and the risk of accident and injury is high. Weaving in and out of traffic at high speed, ramming other cars, or shooting at the suspect could also be considered reckless.
Causation is a complex web to unravel. Certainly, a fleeing suspect is the cause of the police chase, but what if a police chase was unjustified or the chase was particularly reckless? Police and their superiors could be liable.
Damages You Could Claim in a Police Chase Accident
The compensation you get because you suffered injuries or property damage in a police chase is called “damages.” If your personal injury attorney can negotiate an acceptable amount of damages for you pre-trial, this is called a “settlement.”
There are a few types of damages you may be eligible for in a police chase accident:
Economic damages are the actual or projected costs you incur due to the police chase accident.
Medical Treatment and Expenses
Any treatment your injuries re quire, and any expenses you incur due to your police chase accident are compensable. This includes the cost of future treatment for chronic, permanent, or long-lasting injuries or conditions caused by the accident.
Medication and Medical Devices
Any medication you require in the short or long term, and any medical devices you require to heal from or manage your injury are compensable. Medical devices include walkers, wheelchairs, and canes, but adjustments to your home or vehicle to account for your injury are also compensable.
Lost Income and Wages
If you were out of work while you healed from your police chase accident injury, those wages are compensable.
Loss of Future Earning Capacity
If your injury affects your ability to do your job, you may be compensated for loss of future earning potential. Your personal injury lawyer will work with a forensic accountant to determine what future earnings you lost due to your injury.
Property Damage: Vehicle Repair
Repairs to your vehicle, or the cost of a replacement vehicle in some cases, are compensable.
Rental Car Costs
If you require a rental car while your car is being repaired, those costs are compensable.
Pain and Suffering
If the accident and your injury caused you pain and suffering, you can get compensated for that.
If your injury is permanent or disfiguring, you may be entitled to compensation for emotional distress.
If your injury keeps you from engaging in daily activities or hobbies, you may be entitled to compensation for that.
If anyone involved in causing the police chase accident acted recklessly or without regard for human life, you may be entitled to punitive damages, which is usually a multiple of the compensatory damages awarded. Punitive damages are intended to punish the malfeasor and dissuade others from engaging in that same conduct.
Determining Liability for a Car Crash After a Police Chase Accident
Liability and damages are the two most contested factors in car accidents, especially police chase accidents.
The lawyers for both sides will point fingers at each other claiming they are more liable than the other side.
You need a personal injury lawyer with police car crash case experience in your area.
Your attorney will fight against the government and insurance companies.
Ultimately, they’ll hold negligent or reckless parties responsible for your injuries.
Police Chase Accident FAQs
The most common police vehicle accident is the police driver crashing their squad car. Second most common is sideswiping vehicles in the roadway where the high-speed pursuit is happening.
It varies according to the facts of the chase. The police and their superiors may be liable. The fleeing suspect may be liable. You may be liable, if you did not move over a lane or yield to police in lanes of travel. Who pays for damages is entirely fact-dependent and requires an experienced injury attorney and their experts to prove causation and liability.
You must file a notice that you intend to sue the police within six (6) months of the accident. Otherwise, the statute of limitations for filing a police chase accident lawsuit is two (2) years.
The Lawyers of Cousin Benny Are Here For You 24/7
Hire a Police Chase Accident Attorney in Philadelphia
If you were injured or suffered damage to your vehicle due to a police chase accident, call the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Cousin Benny for help. We will discuss your case with you and tell you how much your case is worth, free of charge! Call today.