High-Speed Pursuit Ends in Deadly Rollover Crash

March 13, 2020

A police pursuit ended very badly for a 22-year-old Riverside woman who was ejected from her vehicle during a wreck and died as a result of her injuries.

This chase began near the Riverside Freeway. The suspect, whose name was not released, refused to pull over for a traffic stop and instead got on the highway. When she tried to take the Magnolia Avenue exit, she lost control of her vehicle. It rolled several times before finally coming to rest.

The woman was declared dead at the scene. A 31-year-old passenger, whose name was also not released, was rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.

Police Pursuit Wrecks: A Closer Look

Every year, reckless high-speed chases kill hundreds of people. That’s more victims than police shootings, and also more victims than natural disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes.

On the record, officers often defend such chases by saying that they cannot selectively enforce the laws. Off the record, they usually admit that they savor the adrenaline rush which comes from “getting the bad guy.”

Most suspects feel this same rush. Generally, they say that if police officers stopped chasing them, they would stop running. So, when chases end badly, the police department is ultimately responsible, in most cases.

Typically, police chases involve nonviolent offenders and occur in the evenings or on weekends. Additionally, a disproportionate number of fleeing suspects are young men with poor driving records.

Liability Issues

Obviously, police officers need not obey the rules of the road when they operate in emergency mode (lights flashing and/or siren wailing). However, this immunity is not unlimited. Police officers, and therefore the law enforcement departments which employ them, are liable for damages if:

  • Extreme Recklessness: As mentioned, many chases involve nonviolent offenders. These pursuits are almost inherently reckless. Other factors to consider include the time of day and prevailing traffic conditions.
  • Policy Violation: Most law enforcement departments have written anti-chase policies. However, these policies are usually vaguely worded. Additionally, many dispatchers give instructions like “do not pursue.”

A number of devices, such as tire spikes and shootable GPS locators, are widely available. These James Bond-like gadgets arguably eliminate the need for high-speed pursuits. Failure to use them property could factor into the decision of whether an officer was legally negligent.

Reckless police pursuits often end with serious or fatal injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We normally do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Photo Credit: Charles Edward Miller / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

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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