The vast majority of police officers in our nation do their best to uphold the law and protect the good citizens of Florida from harm. However, these officers are not immune from the consequences of breaking the law. This includes the consequences of causing auto accidents that injure innocent victims, even if they occur during pursuits of suspected criminals.
Tragically, more innocent people are killed each year during high speed police chases than by police firearms. Many of these high speed police chases occur in response to a minor, non-violent crime such as shoplifting or another non-felony. How could the good outweigh the bad in such cases? Especially if an innocent bystander or driver is killed?
Until the day comes that police departments throughout the country modify their pursuit policies, personal injury and wrongful death litigation remain the only real outlets of recourse for injured victims and their families. At the law firm of Chanfrau & Chanfrau in Daytona Beach, auto accidents and police chases form the foundation of some of our most unfortunate cases, demanding that we use all of the resources at our disposal to investigate and reconstruct the accidents and present the most compelling cases possible. Although we stand proudly by our men and women in blue as they work hard to protect our citizens, we must also remain true to our calling to assert the rights of the injured in their pursuit of justice.
Florida Laws Regarding the Operation of Emergency Vehicles
In the state of Florida, as in all states, there are laws regarding the operation of emergency vehicles and the responsibilities of the drivers of those vehicles. Specifically, the statutes acknowledge that there are circumstances under which the rules of the road may be violated; however, these circumstances:
· “…shall not relieve the driver of [an emergency vehicle]… (a) from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor…from the consequences of his or her reckless disregard for the safety of others.” -Florida Statutes Annotated, Sec. 316072(5)(c)
In general, the burden of interpreting “due regard” and “reckless disregard” falls upon the jury in a personal injury or wrongful death case. Each case involves different variables; however, the following factors can have strong influence over how these terms are interpreted:
- Was the chase was initiated by a police officer or the alleged criminal?
- Is there is evidence that the pursuit should have been terminated before it eventually was?
- The nature of the crime that resulted in the chase (e.g., was the crime a violent felony, in which case the chase would be far easier to justify than in the case of, say, a traffic violation?)
- Was there a departmental pursuit policy in place, and was it breached?
Whatever the circumstances surrounding your potential case, our personal injury attorneys have the skill, experience, and wherewithal to provide you with the best legal representation possible.
Contact Our Law Firm Today
To arrange an evaluation of your case, or simply to learn more about litigation arising from accidents caused by high-speed police chases, please contact the law firm of Chanfrau & Chanfrau today.