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Who’s To Blame When A Hot Pursuit Goes Wrong

All too often, people commit crimes with the belief that they will get away with them as long as they don’t get caught by the police. Anyone who’s ever watched a true-to-life television show knows that people will run their fastest, either on foot or in a vehicle, to evade the law. When the suspect tries to escape in their vehicle, the police follow in hot pursuit to capture them. This is when things can become dangerous, as there are often no boundaries when it comes to bringing a suspect to justice.

Taking It To The Streets

A suspect may flee down the roadway, but sometimes these chases can end up on sidewalks, through golf courses, or in the middle of a neighborhood playground. While this can make for a quite a story for the bystanders to tell when they get home, some bystanders are not so lucky. Though property damage is the typical result in such pursuits, some bystanders can find themselves in the back of an ambulance, after all, is said and done.

The majority of injuries or fatalities that occur during an incident like this happen to the fleeing suspect. You might be surprised to learn, however, that there are a high number of innocent bystanders who become injured as well.

Some injuries are minor, such as a cut or scrape, but some can be dire. No one intentionally sets out to hurt people who are in the path of danger, but drivers

in both the fleeing and pursuing vehicles have one thing on their mind, which is the end result.

• The end result for the fleeing suspect is to get far away from the police as quickly as possible so they can avoid capture.

• For the pursuing officer, the end result is capturing the suspect as quickly as they can.

Neither one intends to cause damage to property or people, but to them, the ends justify the means. Vehicles that come up on the sidewalk, or those that crash into homes, can cause damage and death. Property can involve mailboxes, street signs, and houses. Injuries can happen to pedestrians on foot, riders on bicycles, or even people sitting in their living rooms.

Watch Out For Oncoming Vehicles

A bystander doesn’t necessarily need to be standing; some can be driving in the area where the action is taking place. Stop signs, yellow lines, and traffic lights are no match for a fleeing suspect and the police who follow. This can be deadly for anyone who happens to cross the path of the oncoming debacle.

Many years ago, a police officer in Miami ran a stop sign during a police chase and hit another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle died from their injuries.
Mistakes like this can happen to anyone, but who is held responsible when they do? In Florida, the guilty party in a situation of injury to a bystander falls upon whoever is guilty of neglecting the duty of care to the injured person.

• The fleeing suspect can be held responsible if they perform an illegal maneuver that causes them to collide with another vehicle, inflicts injury on another party, or results in the damage of property. Victims might suffer emotional distress as well as their physical injuries, making the fleeing suspect liable for mental and emotional care for the victim.

• The pursuing officer can be held responsible if they do not adhere to the specific procedures required during such an event. Police officers cannot intentionally put life or property at risk. When a person is injured by a police vehicle, or if the police vehicle causes an accident, they can be held responsible.

• Government and municipalities can sometimes bear responsibility in extreme cases if it can be proven that they failed to train police officers properly on pursuit procedures.

Don’t Stand By

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a high-speed chase, contact an experienced attorney who can help you recover your losses. Whether it’s the police or the suspect, the responsible party can be held accountable for lost wages, medical bills, and the emotional trauma of a victim. You might have been a bystander for the event, but you don’t have to be a bystander for your future. Suing for compensation can ensure that the injured party is satisfied and maybe, just maybe, justice can be served.


Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

Who’s To Blame When A Hot Pursuit Goes Wrong

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
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