It’s indisputable. Police have a tough job to do when it comes to catching the bad guys. However, the actions of criminals fleeing from police often puts the public in danger.
CBS Chicago reports that a person sitting in a CTA bus shelter was struck and killed by a driver fleeing from police. The driver reportedly stole a white Jeep. After the vehicle was reported stolen, police located it. The driver then sped away and lost control – crashing into the bus shelter.
How prevalent are crashes caused by fleeing drivers?
Crashes involving drivers fleeing from police are extremely rare, but they can result in severe or life-threatening injuries to those caught in the path. According to USA Today, since 1979, more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have died in such crashes – an average of 329 deaths per year. Tens of thousands more sustained injuries each year.
Nearly half of the people killed in high-speed pursuits between 1979 and 2013 were bystanders and car occupants. The majority of bystanders were killed in their own vehicles by drivers fleeing police.
The annual number of fatalities due to high-speed pursuits in 2013 was 322 nationwide compared to 317 in 1990, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records.
USA Today notes that across the United States, tens of thousands of police chases occur every year. Many of them stem from minor infractions. While high-speed police pursuits often raise safety concerns, some police officers believe it’s necessary to pursue them to maintain law and order.
However, many officers recognize and acknowledge the dangers that high-speed pursuits pose to bystanders. Some are urged not to engage in high-speed pursuits in areas where pedestrians might be put in danger.
USA Today gives examples by highlighting the following incidents:
- A 25-year-old New Jersey man killed by a fleeing driver pursued after running a red light
- A 63-year-old woman killed by a fleeing driver pursued for shoplifting
- A 60-year-old federal worker killed by a fleeing driver pursued for having headlights off
Do I have legal recourse after a crash caused by a fleeing driver?
Crashes such as these are not the fault of the police. They are simply doing their best to protect our community. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash caused by a fleeing driver, you have legal options. You shouldn’t be forced to pay out of your own pocket to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.