Dangerous Police Chase Kills Two Bystanders

May 05, 2021

CHP officers pursued a suspect who ran a red light until he crushed a car which contained two people. Both of them are now dead.

Troopers attempted to pull over the driver on the 405 Freeway. The driver pulled away at a high speed, exiting the 405 on Manchester Avenue. Officers pressed the chase through this largely residential area. Eventually, the fleeing suspect ran a stop sign and pummeled into a white sedan. The two victims were extricated from the wreckage. One was declared dead at the scene and the other died later at a nearby hospital.

Officers soon apprehended the suspect, who fled the scene on foot. He now faces various felony charges.

Legal Options for Victims

In many states, high speed police chase victims have few legal options, even if they were innocent bystanders, because of the sovereign immunity doctrine. But the California Tort Claims Act allows accident victims to file legal claims against a police department, school district, or any other government entity, if its employee was negligent.

The CTCA usually requires a Los Angeles personal injury attorney to file a notice of claim. This notice gives the police department or other agency a chance to settle the claim quietly before it goes to court.

Most attorneys file these notices after medical treatment is at least substantially complete. At that point, a lawyer can usually determine a claim’s settlement value.

This value typically includes compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. To determine a reasonable amount of noneconomic losses, most attorneys consider the facts of the case, as outlined below. Then, they multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on these facts.

Typically, the law gives a defendant about sixty days to settle a claim before the victim has a right to file a lawsuit. This time window includes both the investigation period and the negotiation period.

Elements of a Reckless Pursuit

Negligence is basically a lack of care, which in this context, usually means following the written and unwritten rules of the road. Pursuing officers do not have a duty to obey all these requirements. But they cannot completely disregard them either. Eventually, police chases cross the line. Some factors to consider include:

  • Nature of the suspect’s offense,
  • Suspect’s outsized danger to the community, if any,
  • Presence of other motorists or pedestrians in the area,
  • Length of the chase,
  • Speed of the pursuit, and
  • Time of day or night.

Furthermore, many law enforcement agencies have written anti-chase policies. Violating such a policy, even if an officer had a justifiable excuse for doing so, is evidence of negligence.

Officials from the California Highway Patrol have tried to justify high speed police chases in the past. Therefore, CHP troopers are often more likely to engage in chases like the one described above. Drivers run red lights all the time, so a speeder on the 405 Freeway is hardly an outsized danger.High speed police chases often involve risks that are too high to take. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, contact Attorney Sharona Hakim at the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. You have a limited amount of time to act.

Photo Credit: Michael & Sherry Martin via Flickr

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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