Three people under a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms investigation refused to stop for marked police cars, according to an official release. A high-speed chase ensued. At least two Cincinnati Police Department vehicles chased the suspects. The chase ended at the intersection of Monmouth and 5th, where the driver lost control of the vehicle. That vehicle hit four people, killing tow and seriously injuring two.
The Citizen’s Complaint Authority, CPD, and the Newport Police are all investigating the crash.
High Speed Police Chases
Deaths and injuries due to reckless police shootings dominate the headlines. Yet reckless high-speed chases cause many more deaths and injuries. In fact, every year, these incidents kill more people than police shootings, fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes combined. Roughly 90 [percent of these incidents involve nonviolent offenses, such as weapons infractions. It’s not uncommon to see reckless pursuits over even more petty offenses, such as speeding tickets.
Technological developments, such as smart technology marking and shootable GPS magnetic trackers, have largely eliminated the need for high-speed pursuits. But they persist. On the record, officers usually defend chases by saying that they cannot pick and choose when to enforce certain laws. Off the record, they freely admit that the adrenaline rush to “get the bad guy” usually prompts these chases.
Police officers have a considerable amount of immunity. They can freely ignore stop signs and other traffic control devices during a pursuit, at least to a considerable extent. However, this immunity is far from absolute, as outlined below.
A few jurisdictions have banned police chases altogether. In these places, officers are clearly responsible for injuries, as they are acting outside the scope of their official duties. Furthermore, a violation of a written policy is evidence of negligence. These anti-chase policies are usually buried somewhere deep inside a long list of regulations. Typically, Lexington personal injury attorneys use the discovery process to locate such documents.
Most law enforcement agencies have limited bans. Perhaps a written policy has language which bans “unreasonable” chases. Such language is so vague it is of little help to victims. Other times, a police dispatcher issues a directive like “pursue with caution.” Once again, this limitation is quite vague.
In these cases, victim/plaintiffs must normally establish a lack of care. Because of the official immunity doctrine, judges consider a number of factors to determine the degree of recklessness. Some of these factors include:
- Time of day,
- Speed of the pursuit,
- Traffic conditions at the time, and
- Nature of the alleged offense.
These same factors also apply if there was no formal or informal non-chase policy.
In many cases, the onus is on law enforcement to protect people by not pursuing. Most captured suspects say they would have stopped running if officers called off their pursuit.
The respondeat superior rule states that employers, like a city or county, are financially responsible for the negligent actions or inactions of their employees, like police officers. This doctrine applies if:
- Employee: Anyone whom the employer controls is an employee for negligence purposes. For example, truck drivers are almost always employees, even if they are legally independent contractors or owner-operators.
- Scope of Employment: Any act which benefits the employer in any way satisfies this requirement. That includes driving a police car in a non-pursuit situation. The employer benefits from the deterrent effect of a police cruiser.
- Foreseeability: The wreck must be a foreseeable result of the employer-employee relationship. If a suspended officer steals a car from the parking garage, a subsequent accident is not foreseeable.
Claims against government entities are a bit different. Normally, a Lexington personal injury attorney must first file a notice of claim. This notice gives the defendant a chance to investigate the claim and settle it. If the defendant refuses to settle, or the settlement offer is unacceptable, victim/plaintiffs can normally pursue damage claims in court.
These damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available in high-speed pursuit claims as well. There is generally clear and convincing evidence that the officers intentionally disregarded a known risk.
Reckless police chases often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.