Police pursuit of criminals in Kansas City could be putting bystanders at risk. Car chases occur when a suspected criminal tries to escape law enforcement by fleeing in a vehicle. These chases are usually at high speeds and pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and even people in their home could be in harm’s way. The suspect usually has little regard for the law and often runs red lights and drives dangerously. In an effort to keep up with the suspect, police themselves put others a risk by driving at high speeds and running red lights as well.

At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we see the consequences of accidents caused by these high speed chases. As personal injury lawyers, we have represented personal injury clients with catastrophic injuries and damages due to the resulting dangerous and sometimes deadly car wrecks.

It is estimated that two-thirds of people injured or killed in car accidents resulting from a police chase are innocent bystanders. In an effort to protect the safety of the general public, most police departments have policies in place for if and when a car chase occurs.

Police Pursuit Policies

  • Judgmental: Police departments that have a judgmental policy in place gives the officers the authority to decide if a police pursuit should occur. Officers also judge when to begin the pursuit, how it should be carried out, and when it should end.
  • Restrictive: Departments that follow a restrictive policy leaves little room for officer judgment. Police departments with a restrictive policy in place have a predetermined outline of situations and scenarios in which a pursuit is allowed.  
  • Discouragement: Departments that have a discouragement policy caution and/or discourages police from becoming involved in high speed chases. Larger metropolitan cities generally follow a discouragement policy because of large population and heightened risk to public safety.

The types of policies in place can vary greatly depending upon a number of factors. Rural towns with fewer pedestrians and traffic would likely follow a judgmental policy. However, larger cities would follow a discouragement or restrictive policy due to the significant increase in public safety.

There have been many sad, tragic cases where innocent people have been badly injured or lost their lives during a police chase. In Seattle, the family of Douglas Simmons filed a wrongful death lawsuit after he was killed during a high speed chase. Virginia Ramsey crashed into Simmons’ car when she was trying to escape the police. Simmons was killed in that accident and his passenger sustained a serious traumatic brain injury.

Legislation has been proposed in California that would restrict immunity for damage (including injury and death) caused by high speed pursuits when police departments have written, but not followed, pursuit policies. The legislation is called Kristie’s Law and is named after Kristie Priano who lost her life after being involved in a car accident with an SUV that was fleeing the police.

High speed car chases are unpredictable and can be deadly. Police departments should exercise a lot of constraint and concern for public safety. It is up to the individual police departments to follow their written policy for police pursuit.

Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.

James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.