Liability of Governmental Entities for Georgia Auto Accidents Caused by Police Chases


November 18, 2010

We have all seen police chases on television where police cars streak down the roadway in pursuit of a motor vehicle driven by a suspect. Many times these television depictions include serious collisions with other vehicles. The sad reality is that such accidents can and do occur in the real world with consequences that can be devastating. Approximately 300 people are killed annually as a result of high-speed pursuits involving law enforcement entities.

Over 40% of injury victims that result from police chases are innocent bystanders that were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because auto accidents that are the result of a police chase involve high rates of speed, they can cause catastrophic injuries including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, permanent paralysis, serious internal organ damage and even fatalities. Auto accidents that involve police chases require litigation against a public entity which means strict notice, timing and procedural requirements. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing those seriously injured or killed in auto accidents in Georgia for over 25 years.

Though the police and other law enforcement officers have the power to arrest someone, it does not mean that they are above the law. Most law enforcement agencies have strict rules and regulations that govern how high-speed chases are handled to prevent unnecessary injury to innocent bystanders. These rules are designed to prevent collateral damage to those in the vicinity when a police officer decides to engage in the high-speed pursuit of a suspect. Some law enforcement agencies discourage such police chases entirely in favor of alternative tactics, including taking down license information and using other techniques to investigate and apprehend a suspect. When a police officer fails to follow the rules and procedures that have been designed to protect the public during such chases, the governmental entity that employs the officer may be liable for any injuries or deaths caused by an auto accident in which an innocent bystander is injured or killed.

A lawsuit brought by a car accident victim in a high-speed police chase will typically be brought against a governmental entity. Lawsuits brought against governmental entities are complicated by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity means that a governmental entity cannot be sued for personal injury negligence without its permission. Both the Federal and Georgia governments have enacted legislation that creates exceptions, which permit suing governmental entities for personal injuries depending on the circumstances of the case. However, these laws are potential traps for the unwary because they are filled with special often technical procedures, shortened time limits for initiating a claim and other restrictions that make quickly consulting an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer essential.

Georgia's law that permits personal injury claims against the government is called the Georgia Tort Claims Act. The Georgia law applies only to state government agencies and not to county or city agencies. This means that the law does not cover many kinds of governmental actions, which are therefore still protected by sovereign immunity. However, there are other exceptions to the sovereign immunity doctrine. For example, if a county or state buys liability insurance coverage for its motor vehicles, a victim who is injured because one of the vehicles was not operated properly could recover damages as high as the amount provided for by insurance coverage.

Once again, while an auto accident victim who is the innocent victim of a police chase may be able to seek legal compensation for his or her injuries, the accident victim may have to comply with very strict and short time limits to file one's claim and other procedural hurdles. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Atlanta accident lawyers and Georgia accident lawyers have handled hundreds of personal injury cases where a governmental entity was partially responsible for our clients' injuries. We can guide you through this potential minefield to make sure that you or your loved one is fully compensated. Our attorneys have been assisting those seriously injured or killed in Georgia auto accidents including those brought against governmental entities for over 25 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.