Police pursuits in Virginia are often negligently performed, resulting in serious personal injury or wrongful death of an innocent citizen and consequent liability on the part of the police. Pick up your local newspaper and too often you will read a report of a serious injury or death related to a police pursuit.
Also too often, the victim is an occupant of a motor vehicle that was not involved in the chase and yet is struck by either the fleeing car or by the police car. Because high speeds are generally involved, these crashes can result in catastrophic injuries (quadriplegia, paraplegia, brain damage) or death.
Unfortunately, Virginia law is slanted in favor of the police. As a general proposition, the pursuing police officer is immune from liability. This immunity serves as a shield. As a result, the lawsuit will get thrown out of court.
Engage in the Pursuit of Justice
Even so, with the right facts and aggressive investigation, the police can be held responsible in civil court for money damages even under Virginia law. This is because there are several potential ways around police immunity. One way is to prove that the police were acting outside their authority—for example exceeding the maximum speed limit that the police department’s own internal regulations allow, or for example driving on the wrong side of a divided highway in an effort to catch up with the wrongdoer.
So if a loved one or friend has been badly hurt or killed during a police pursuit, don’t give up. Instead, engage in your own pursuit—the pursuit of justice. Do what is necessary to investigate the circumstances of the tragedy and file suit if the facts suggest that money damages can be recovered in a court of law.
Free Legal Consultation
At Cuthbert Law Offices, (804) 485-2555, cuthbertlaw.com. We never charge a fee for evaluating a possible claim arising out of a police pursuit. Contact our law offices in Richmond and Petersburg today. We have been involved in such cases and we want to share our experience with you.