In recent years we have seen an increase in dangerous situations arising from those evading law enforcement on our roads and highways. Just last week in California, a California Highway Patrol officer on a motorcycle was unable to stop or to cite a group of riders also on motorcycles who were taunting him. Although these riders engaged in numerous violations, the officer had to let them ride off, since he had to wait for back up and the riders failed to respond to his siren and signal to pull over. Once back-up arrived he and his colleague tried to follow the riders, but this chase became too dangerous once it was off the highway and on city streets. Although in this situation there was no one injured, it could have become very dangerous. It seems that increasingly there is a failure on the part of some to do things we used to take for granted, such as pulling over for an emergency vehicle or for law enforcement. And as this disrespectful, and often illegal, way of responding to the instructions of our law enforcement and first responders rises, so does the impact on innocent bystanders.
Case in point, the price that one teen may pay for having attempted to evade Georgia State Patrol officers as they pursued him in a stolen vehicle. His alleged failure to stop now means that he will be charged as an adult in Fulton County not just for stealing a vehicle, but for murder. As he attempted to get away from law enforcement, he is alleged to have run a red light and in turn crashed into another vehicle that was traveling through the same intersection, killing a passenger. Yet another vehicle was hit during this pursuit and others were injured. Reports indicated that five individuals were taken to the hospital after this hot chase. This teen has many charges to deal with now, including DUI, unlicensed driving, serious injury by vehicle and many more.
As was the case in the recent Fulton County crash, not only can a driver’s evasive activity be dangerous for other drivers, it can also be dangerous for law enforcement, pedestrians and can cause property damage. In addition, a driver engaged in what is found to be reckless driving and causing death or injury, can be liable for money damages in a civil case for the death or injury of innocent bystanders. Harmed individuals, or their families in the case of wrongful death, can file such a civil action against the driver.
Law enforcement across the country are mindful of the dangers of high speed chases, as noted in California last week. Law enforcement agencies must balance the need to stop a crime with the safety of innocent bystanders. The consequences of these chases are the subject of much discussion within the law enforcement community. This is because there are risks to agencies and possible litigation against them in the event of personal injury, death or property destruction. Although in most states, including Georgia, there are laws that control emergency vehicle driving, even when law enforcement is pursuing someone they still must keep regard for the safety of the public and they must use due care.
When the unexpected happens and you or a loved one needs legal support, Scholle Law is here to guide and help you. Contact our law offices for a free consultation after an accident or injury. Our legal team will take the burden off of you and your family and with skill and expertise, we will help you get through this very difficult time.