Police throughout the country engage in high-speed chases every day. Many of these high-speed chases result in serious personal injury, death, and property damage. While many of these high-speed pursuits result in capturing a fleeing suspect, they often have serious consequences to New Hampshire motorists and bystanders. The law defines pursuits as instances when an on-duty officer in a patrol car is involved in an active attempt to apprehend one or more occupants of a moving vehicle. Although many law enforcement agencies maintain policies and procedures concerning high-speed chases, accidents continue to occur.
For example, national news reports recently reported that federal prosecutors announced that a police officer would be charged with second-degree murder, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice following the death of a 20-year-old. The 20-year-old died after his moped slammed into a car while officers were chasing him. The officers stated they were chasing the young man because he was riding his moped on the sidewalk without a helmet. The chase made its way into an alley, and when the moped driver emerged from the alley, he slammed into the passenger door of a passing vehicle. D.C. City police rules forbid high-speed chased over minor traffic violations. In addition to criminal charges, the officers may face civil claims from the deceased man’s family.
After a typical car accident, the negligent party’s conduct is measured against the “reasonable person” standard. However, under the civil system, law enforcement officers are viewed differently than ordinary citizens. In most cases, the law requires these parties to exercise reasonable care in their actions according to their unique training and abilities. Therefore, the degree of care they exercise while in the pursuit of a fleeing suspect must be appropriate relative to the circumstances at hand.
However, law enforcement agencies often challenge injury claims by asserting official immunity. Official immunity protects officers from personal liability under specific circumstances. This defense is applicable when the officer’s decisions were made within the scope and course of employment; they are discretionary and not made wantonly or recklessly. Courts and lawmakers have defended this immunity by claiming that an onslaught of cases would hinder law enforcement’s practical ability to protect the public. The law is unclear on whether this immunity applies to other governmental entities beyond police officers. These cases tend to be complex and require a thorough understanding of convoluted personal injury laws. It is critical that those who suffered injuries because of a negligent government entity or employee contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a New Hampshire Accident
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a New Hampshire car accident because of another’s negligence, contact Peter Thompson & Associates. The lawyers on our team have a thorough understanding of New Hampshire personal injury laws. We have successfully handled countless personal injury claims stemming from motor vehicle accidents, unsafe products, dog bites, slip and falls, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and neglect, and wrongful death. Contact our New Hampshire attorneys at 800.804.2004 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer on our team.