Recovering Damages in Car Accidents Resulting from Police Chases
Police car chases last an average of 2.5 minutes with 30-40% of these chases ending up in car crashes.
It is a disturbing fact that about 350 innocent people are killed each year as a result of such chases. Many of the roads where these high-speed chases take place are congested so these chases endanger other drivers or pedestrians.
When police officers engage in a high-speed chase, they are attempting to apprehend a person whom they believe has committed a crime that warrants an arrest of some sort. If a person tries to elude a traffic stop and induces the police to give chase, they are creating a highly volatile situation, which endangers others. The police officer must make a decision to determine whether or not his action or inaction is in line with his duty to serve and protect the public. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a Georgia car crash involving a high speed chase, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and/or loss.
A police officer engaged in a police chase in the line of duty may be protected by sovereign immunity in Georgia, which is granted to police officers to limit their liability for injuries or deaths caused while they are performing their duties. A judge has the power to grant this immunity and determines whether or not you will be able to sue a police officer civilly. The judge will evaluate evidence regarding the officer’s conduct and whether the police officer acted in a reasonable manner. The court will consider the information available to the officer at the time of the high-speed pursuit as well as whether the officer caused harm intentionally, recklessly or negligently and/or violated any laws.
The Georgia Supreme Court has softened the potential impact of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is waived if an auto accident victim establishes that insurance coverage is available to cover the accident and that the police officer acted with reckless disregard of proper police procedure. Georgia law provides that where there is available insurance coverage applicable to the negligent use of a motor vehicle, sovereign immunity is waived for counties and municipalities.
Georgia's statute 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 statute 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, as noted above, 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 up to policy limits.
While a Georgia auto accident victim who is injured in a police chase may be able to seek legal compensation for his or her injuries, the accident victim may have to comply with a very short time limit to file one's claim and other procedural hurdles. Therefore, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced Georgia auto accident attorney as soon as possible. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia car accident lawyers have been handling personal injury cases where a governmental entity was partially responsible for our clients' injuries. We know how to navigate the legal minefield so that we obtain the best possible results.
Our attorneys have been assisting those seriously injured or killed in Georgia auto accidents including those brought against governmental entities for over 27 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.