Milledgeville High Speed Car Chase Leads to Serious Accident
On December 28, 2016, it is reported by the Union-Recorder that a 20-year-old woman stole a 2015 Toyota Corolla from a male acquaintance in Milledgeville, Georgia. She ignored the owner when he tried to retrieve his car. He then called the sheriff's office to report the theft. While talking to the victim outside his home, the investigating deputy spotted a car matching the description of the stolen vehicle at a nearby intersection. The woman, seeing the patrol car, took off at high speed, trying to elude the police. She ran red lights and stop signs. When the deputy finally stopped her, she fled on foot. After a several blocks, she surrendered and was taken to the Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center.
A week later, according the the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a Georgia State trooper spotted a Dodge Journey speeding along I-85 in DeKalb County. The trooper took chase, and was soon joined by two other troopers in a high-speed pursuit that continued into Atlanta, where the car was eventually stopped. Four occupants bailed out and fled on foot. It turns out that the vehicle had been stolen from a CSX facility in DeKalb County the night before. The four suspects were captured and taken to Atlanta's Pre-Trial Detention Center, where they were charged with criminal and traffic citations.
Neither of these high-speed pursuits involved or ended in a crash, but frequently they do, into other cars (often occupied), pedestrians, buildings, trees, light poles, or buildings. Innocent third-persons are often killed or injured, their property badly damaged. National statisticians estimate that between 500 and 1,500 people are killed nationally in high speed pursuits each year, and between 2,500 to 7,500 are seriously injured.
Can anyone be held accountable for these injuries, deaths and losses? Often, as was the case in these two recent incidents in Georgia, the vehicle being pursued is stolen or the perpetrator is unlicensed or uninsured, leaving the police as the only viable source of recovery.
Under Georgia law, recovery from the police is possible but problematic. Georgia recognizes the concept of holding law enforcement agencies accountable for such losses under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-6(d)(2) when the pursuit was a reckless disregard for proper police procedures.
In the case of the Milledgeville woman, she was a suspected felon, having been reported for stealing an automobile. The court may determine that under these circumstances, the pursuit was justified. In the case of the pursuit along I-85, the appropriateness of the high-speed pursuit, had it resulted in death, personal injury or property damage is questionable, since the police did not have had knowledge at the outset of the pursuit why the occupants were fleeing and may or may not have learned of that the car had been stolen during the pursuit itself.
If, as a third-person, you or someone in your family has been killed or injured as a result of high-speed police pursuit or your property has been seriously damaged, you should consult with one of our attorneys at Montlick & Associates to learn about your legal rights and options.
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Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, assists victims of Georgia car wrecks and other traffic collisions in the Southeast recover compensation for their injuries and losses. This may include monetary compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages if the at-fault driver's conduct rose to the level of gross negligence and more. We strive to achieve the most favorable outcome possible for our clients under the law.
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