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Unfortunately, far too many people are injured or killed every year in crashes related to high-speed police chases. According to a recent report, over the last 30 years, these crashes have killed more than 5,000 bystanders nationwide, and that number does not include the thousands of others who survived, but were seriously injured. In all, about two-thirds of the victims of high-speed police chase accidents are innocent third parties, who had nothing to do with the chase.
It’s possible these numbers are actually underestimated somewhat, since the data comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which compiles the information from police reports, which do not always make note of police chases. The numbers are still chilling, however, with a high percentage of the victims of these crashes being young children, teenagers, and the elderly. For its part, law enforcement agencies nationwide and the Department of Justice have acknowledged that high-speed chases are extremely dangerous and present an extreme hazard to pedestrians and other motorists, and they have called on police agencies and officers to avoid them, but despite this, the problem persists. While police officers have a duty and a responsibility to protect innocent people from danger, quite often, their judgment goes by the wayside when the adrenaline is rushing through them during a high-speed chase.
While national standards have largely sought to curtail the practice of high-speed chases, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) seems to be going in the other direction. It not only allows for the high-speed chases, but it also allows troopers to shoot at vehicles that are fleeing. While DPS policies limit gun use to situations in which the officer believes a suspect will cause harm, they claim the occasional use of firearms from a vehicle is still sometimes necessary.
And while many police agencies around the nation have limited chases to only the most dangerous criminals and crimes, in Texas, there is virtually no distinction made between offenders who flee, which means they chase petty criminals just as rigorously as they do criminals who pose a serious danger to society. Their rationale is that anyone who attempts to evade law enforcement has committed a felony and endangered the public, and should be pursued.
DPS estimates that troopers engage in about 900 high speed chases per year, with many of them involving speeds of far greater than 100 mph. According to one study released in 2008, Texas state police are also far less likely to call off a chase once it has begun. Nationwide, police departments call off about nine percent of their chases at some point, whereas Texas DPS officers only called off three percent. That’s the equivalent of about 2.5 police chases a day, with only one being called off every couple of weeks.
Despite the constant public debate about the dangers to innocent bystanders by high speed police chases, the question of who is liable for any damages seems to be wide open and confusing for the victims and their loved ones, so if someone has been injured in a crash caused by a Texas high-speed police chase, you need a knowledgeable and experienced auto accident attorney to sort everything out and find you the compensation you need from whoever is responsible. The attorneys at Adame Garza LLP have the knowledge and experience you need to get what you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.