What happens When Injured in a Police Chase?

police chase

What happens When Injured in a Police Chase?

Let’s say for example, you’re taking an evening drive and all of the sudden you are in the middle of a police chase. The suspect hits your car and flees. What happens? Who is responsible? What should one do in a case like this? Wait, continue, or report to a police station? Will an officer stop to assist? What if a police officer damages your car? Who is responsible then? What should one do? Sit tight and wait for an officer? What if there is bodily injury?


police chase

Who is liable for police chase damages and injuries?

Louisiana state court lawsuits are generally based upon negligence principles.

Federal court lawsuits generally fall under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (federal civil rights statute).

This statute provides that an officer is liable if acting under color of law and violates another’s constitutional rights.

Chased Suspect’s Liability

Drivers should always be cautious. They owe a duty of care to cyclists, pedestrians, and other motorists. They breach that duty if they drive recklessly or negligently.

The suspect in a high-speed chase is liable for injuries when:

  • Negligence– Liability falls to the suspect if they drove carelessly, causing damage or injury.
  • Negligence per se- If the driver exceeds the posted speed limit, for example. Just by breaking laws in certain cases, he or she may be found liable for negligence.
  • Negligent causation of emotional distress– If the victim sustained a physical injury and emotional distress, a driver may be liable.
Potential Police Liability

Law-enforcement officers have a wide range of freedom to carry out their duties. Negligence alone, or the failure to exercise due care, usually isn’t enough for liability.

There are very few laws that specifically control pursuits by police. Instead, there are policies by the police department that dictate pursuit restrictions. Legally, police officers can pursue potential suspects. An officer probably won’t have broken any laws, even if they don’t follow department policy. They may, however, suffer consequences within the police force.

While police pursuits are a necessary part of police work, officers should be aware of the potential danger. They should terminate pursuits when the risk of injury outweighs the benefit of catching the suspect.

In situations where a police officer directly causes injury to a citizen, the officer or the agency can be civilly liable under negligence principles. The most common type of lawsuit arises when the suspect injures a third party uninvolved in the pursuit. Although some states have enacted statutes providing immunity to the officer, other states permit a plaintiff to sue the officer and the agency.

If you were an innocent bystander in a police chase, contact our New Orleans, Louisiana lawyers at The Law Offices of L. Clayton Burgess Today! Fill out our contact form, or call us toll free at