Our Michigan police chase accident attorneys represent innocent victims injured due to the police pursuit of another vehicle. The injuries suffered in these crashes are often serious and many times fatal. Unfortunately, there are only very limited circumstances in which the police department or policing agency can be held liable for reckless chases. Other claims for compensation and insurance benefits available.
When can the Police Chase a Fleeing Vehicle?
Many police departments have specific written polices to protect the public from injuries causes by police chases. For example, the Michigan State Police have a written policy that states "While department enlisted and motor carrier officers shall make every reasonable effort to apprehend the drivers of fleeing vehicles, they shall weigh the hazard presented by the violator against that created by a vehicle pursuit. It is better to either delay the arrest or abandon the pursuit than to needlessly injure or kill innocent people, including our own members.”
Despite these types of policies, many officers recklessly endanger the public by pursuing fleeing vehicles at excessive speeds. Although there intentions to protect the public and apprehend criminals may be good, the risks created by such a chase to the innocent public are significant. Many times, they are deadly.
Why Most Police Chases Should Never Happen
Most police chases should never even happen in the first place. Once the police start the aggressive pursuit of a fleeing vehicle, there are usually only bad things that happen to innocent people. Many times, the fleeing vehicle driving recklessly at an excessive speed strikes an innocent motorist, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian. In most cases, the person being chased by police has either committed a minor crime, like a misdemeanor shoplifting. Even if caught, the penalties for many minor offenses is probation or a very short jail stay, certainly not worth jeopardizing the safety of the public at large for such a minor offense.
When can I sue the Police Department for a Police Chase Accident?
Under Michigan law, government employees, like the police, can only be sued in limited circumstances for acts committed during their official duties. Generally known as "governmental immunity," the law insulates even negligent governmental employees from being subjected to lawsuits. This insulates the government from being held accountable for negligent acts that harm members of the tax paying public.
With respect to police chase accidents, the right to sue the police department and government became even more limited after an opining of the Michigan Supreme Court in the year 2000. The Court held that the police officers and the department were immune from a civil lawsuit because the police vehicle was not the vehicle that struck the plaintiff's car. Rather, the police vehicle recklessly chased another vehicle that crashed into the innocent driver's car and caused her death. The judges determined that because the police car did not cause the actual injury, the police officers and department could not be held accountable for the death.
While this seems irrational and intellectually dishonest (and it is), it is the prevailing law in Michigan. Victims of police chases have been unable to pursue their cases against reckless police officers in chase accident cases for almost two decades now. As a result, the number of police chase accidents has actually increased over that period from previous years as there is no accountability for injury and death caused by the police chasing a fleeing vehicle.
Who Can I Sue if I was Injured in a Michigan Police Chase Accident?
A person injured in a police chase accident can sue the driver and owner of the fleeing vehicle. Unfortunately, these people often have no insurance or are driving a stolen vehicle. The insurer of the stolen vehicle is not required to pay for injuries caused by a thief driving the stolen vehicle. If there is an insurance policy, a claim can be made against that policy.
Many times, the victim will have uninsured motorists coverage under his or her own policy. The victim may also be covered under the insurance policy of the driver of the struck vehicle or a policy of another family member. These policies may pay for the injuries caused by the striking vehicle.
In this type of case, the injured person can seek compensation for pain and suffering, disability, scars and disfigurement, and other claims allowed by Michigan law. In fatal accident cases, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Those cases seek compensation for the pain and suffering of the victim prior to death, the loss of society and companionship to the family members, loss of income and financial support, medical bills, and funeral and burial expenses.
Can I get No Fault Insurance Benefits after a Police Chase Crash?
Every driver in Michigan is required by law to have an automobile insurance policy with no-fault benefits. This means, that every driver, bicyclist, and pedestrian in the entire state is most likely entitled to insurance benefits regardless of whether they were at fault in the accident. No fault insurance provides a wide range of benefits, including medical bills, prescription costs, attendant care services, and lost wages.
There are strict time deadlines for filing No-Fault insurance applications. It is mandatory that these forms be completed within one year of the accident. If you fail to complete the necessary paperwork before the deadline, you will not be able to obtain benefits.
Our lawyers can help with the insurance filing process. We will help you complete the forms, send them into the insurance company, and follow up to make sure your benefits are paid. If the insurance adjuster delays payment or refuses to pay benefits, we will file a lawsuit for you.
No Lawyer Fees Unless We Win Your Police Accident Case
We do not charge any legal fees to handle your case. Our fees only get paid after you have received your settlement. There is nothing to lose, so call us today!
Find A Michigan Police Chase Accident Lawyer
Victims of police chase accidents do have rights and should pursue those rights if they are injured by a police vehicle or a vehicle fleeing the police. When choosing an attorney, it is important to chose a firm experienced in police accident cases. That way, you can ensure that your case will be vigorously pursued and that you will receive full compensation for your the injuries caused by the crash.
Our award winning Michigan car accident lawyers have the highest possible rating in skill and integrity in the legal profession. We have won significant settlements for accident victims throughout the State of Michigan for almost fifty years. We will do the same for you.
Contact Your Michigan Police Chase Accident Lawyers
For more information regarding your rights after a police chase accident, call us at (888) 797-8787 to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. You can also submit the Free Case Review Form on this page and a lawyer will be in touch with you shortly. You can also contact us through our chat operator.