One person is in the hospital after Arlington police continued pursuing a robbery suspect into Fort Worth.
When officers tried to apprehend two robbery suspects, the men got into a car and fled. The chase eventually ended with a crash near the intersection of Wilbarger Street and U.S. 287. One person was seriously injured and transported to a local hospital.
After searching the car and suspects, officers discovered several cartons of cigarettes.
Each year, an average of one person a day dies in a high-speed police chase. That's far more than the number of police shooting victims. Because of this danger, over 95 percent of police departments and sheriff's offices have written anti-chase policies.
Violating such a policy is evidence of negligence. Additional circumstances, such as the length of the chase and the nature of the defendant's offense, make negligence even more likely. In the above story, officers pursued a suspect across the city limits for what turned out to be a few packages of cigarettes.
Liability might also attach in these situations if officers were extremely reckless during the pursuit. Generally, recklessness is an intentional disregard for the safety of other people. Such indifference is common in high-speed chases. Many times, to officers, everything else is secondary to getting the bad guy.
It is not easy for Fort Worth personal injury attorneys to establish liability in these cases. The sovereign immunity doctrine protects police officers in all but the most extreme circumstances. The good news is that a death, or even a serious injury, almost always makes the circumstances extreme.
Third Party Liability
When officers are negligent, the city or county is usually responsible for damages. Employers are liable under the respondeat superior rule if:
Employee: The tortfeasor (negligent driver) must have been an employee. For negligence purposes, an employee is anyone the employer controls. That category includes people like independent contractors, owner-operators, and even unpaid church volunteers.
Scope of Employment: The employee must have been acting within the scope of employment at the time of the crash. This category includes any act which benefits the employer in any way. In workers' compensation matters, employee softball games are within the scope of employment. The free advertising benefits the employer.
Other employer liability theories, which often apply in assault and other intentional tort claims, include negligent supervision and negligent hiring.
Reckless high-speed chases often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. After-hours visits are available.