Bridgeport Police Chase Accident Lawyer

A police chase lawyer working at his computer and studying a client's car accident case.Police chases may look exciting in movies or news footage, but the reality is that they are extremely dangerous. In the process of trying to stop a criminal — supposedly preventing further harm to the public — officers and those involved in the chase can instead cause more harm.

Because police chase accidents tend to involve high speeds, including in situations where traffic is typically slow-moving, the impact forces can be enormous. Injuries, accordingly, tend to be severe.

Officers, criminal suspects, and innocent bystanders can all be affected.

The one bit of good news is that police chase injury victims may be able to file a liability claim against one or more parties involved. Connecticut law allows citizens to file claims for damages against police departments and individual law enforcement personnel.

The criminal suspect who initiated the chase may also be liable for injuries they caused, and third parties could also have contributed liability.

Determining liability and fighting for the compensation you need to pay your bills can be challenging. You will need not only evidence of wrongdoing but also a solid legal justification for your claim.

Let Bert McDowell Injury Law step in and give your case a fighting chance. We can help you identify all at-fault parties and hold them accountable for the damages they have inflicted.

Schedule your free case review with an experienced Bridgeport police pursuit accident lawyer today when you call (203) 590-9169 or contact us online.

What Damages Can a Bridgeport Police Chase Accident Attorney Help Me Recover?

In every car accident case, the damages will be unique. That said, injury victims typically have the bulk of their compensation provided for the following:

  • Medical bills, including all past care and the estimated costs of needed future care
  • Lost wages, covering not just missed work hours but also the costs of used benefits and any reductions in earnings stemming from bonuses, commissions, etc, that would have likely been earned
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident and necessary medical care, such as the costs of receiving transportation or parking at medical appointments
  • Pain and suffering, compensating victims for the physical discomfort they have experienced as well as the mental anguish and diminished quality of life inflicted by their injury
  • Wrongful death benefits in fatal cases, providing families with compensation for a funeral, handling of the remains, lost income, and their own suffering from the loss of companionship
  • Punitive damages may be awarded by juries at the conclusion of a trial if the at-fault party acted in an egregiously reckless, grossly negligent, or intentionally harmful manner

Your Bridgeport personal injury attorney will work closely with you to determine the appropriate amount of damages to seek, including any projected future costs related to the accident. Our sole goal is to keep you from paying out-of-pocket for damages that were no fault of your own.

When Could Police Be Considered Liable for Damages After Causing an Accident During a Pursuit?

Over the past few decades, the general public has re-evaluated the role police chases should play in day-to-day law enforcement. As roads get more crowded and the public gains a deeper understanding of the need to protect individual liberties, municipalities have responded by putting stricter and more clearly defined policies in place governing the use of police pursuits.

Crash injury victims can use these policies to point to specific failings by a police officer and their supervisor that led to an unreasonably dangerous pursuit. These types of claims have a higher burden of proof placed on the injury victim, as police are given wide discretion and presumed immunity from liability for the results of that discretion.

Further, claims filed against police departments — or public entities in general — have a much tighter time window for filing a claim. The injury victim has just six months to file a notice of a claim, along with all applicable evidence and legal justification for the department’s liability.

If this claim is rejected, then the victim may have the option to pursue a lawsuit against the department or other public entity.

In other words, it can be tough to submit your claim in time, and it could be rejected without the right strategy and evidence. More concerning, courts have traditionally given police officers a wide level of immunity for injuries inflicted upon bystanders, suspects, and members of the general public.

However, courts have begun to consider police chases as an exception to this tradition. In August of 2023, the Connecticut Supreme Court allowed a lawsuit against the town of Bloomfield’s police department — one related to a police chase accident — to proceed, reversing a Superior Court’s decision that had effectively barred the complaint.

The Supreme Court had concluded that “after initiating an emergency pursuit, police officers are obligated to show ‘due regard’ in their driving for the safety of people and property around them.”

In other words, the decision to initiate and continue a chase could be considered to be unacceptably dangerous and not in the public’s interest. While lawsuits against police departments and municipalities will not always succeed on these grounds, the Supreme Court’s decision shows that victims at least have the right to have the matter of liability considered by the court.

What Is Bridgeport’s Police Chase Policy?

Bridgeport has one of the most specific and detailed police chase policies in the state of Connecticut, according to a report by the Connecticut General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research. The city’s police vehicle pursuit policy, which was most recently updated in May of 2022, provides specific instructions meant to guide decisions related to the initiation of a chase, the tactics used in the pursuit, and whether the chase should continue at each given decision point.

According to the detailed document, which was prepared and approved by former Chief of Police Rebeca Garcia:

“The decision to initiate pursuit must be based on the pursuing officer’s objectively reasonable determination, based upon the information available, that the imminent threat of imminent death or serious physical injury to the officer, the public, or both, created by the pursuit is less than the immediate or potential danger to the public should the suspect remain at large.”

Some other key provisions state that the pursuing officer must have reason to believe that the suspect was engaged in a violent crime or that the public is likely to suffer great harm if the suspect is not apprehended. Pursuits are not permitted for non-violent property crimes, including vehicle theft and other misdemeanors, where there is no reasonable assumption that the public will be placed in harm’s way.

Officers are not allowed to pursue a motorcycle or other non-standard type of vehicle that does not offer full protection to the operator and occupants, including ATVs, three-wheeled bikes, golf carts, etc. Most importantly, officers have to continuously justify their use of pursuit and motor vehicle-disabling tactics from moment to moment.

Their decision has to be based on factors such as:

  • The current volume of traffic, including vehicles and pedestrians
  • Weather and road conditions
  • The speeds required to remain in pursuit
  • The type of area, such as residential vs. business vs. mixed-use, especially when entering a new area after the pursuit has continued
  • The type of vehicle being pursued
  • Whether or not the suspect’s identity is known and the suspect could be located later
  • The pursuing officer’s familiarity with the current roadway and area
  • Likelihood of apprehension, including the availability of backup support
  • The possibility for there to be a passenger or other innocent third party in the vehicle or otherwise in the path of danger
  • The officer’s ability to provide clear radio communications, keeping the local precinct informed of the direction of travel and the ongoing status of events

Violation of these policies may not provide sufficient grounds for demonstrating liability on their own, but evidence of deviation can certainly add weight to a claim. Refer to an attorney who can help you obtain the full report on the pursuit, research other information relevant to the case (such as the pursuing officer’s disciplinary history), and gather other evidence needed to determine and concretely prove fault.

Who Else Could Be Liable for My Injuries After a Police Chase in Bridgeport?

Police chase scenarios can become quite complicated, potentially involving dozens of vehicles and a pursuit crossing through multiple areas of town. While pursuing officers are responsible for not endangering the public, they may not carry the bulk of liability for the injuries suffered.

In addition to the police department and other responsible public entities, your attorney can help you consider if any of the following parties could be held liable for the damages you have suffered:

  • The suspect being pursued
  • Drivers who failed to act reasonably and safely in response to the pursuit, such as by ignoring police sirens
  • Property owners whose roadway or landscaping created unreasonable hazards
  • Defective manufacturers of vehicles or parts
  • Other third parties

Work With an Experienced and Motivated Bridgeport Police Chase Accident Law Firm

Dealing with an injury inflicted during a police chase is never easy, and the victim may be panicking when considering their options for repaying all of the damages they have suffered.

Rest assured that Bert McDowell Injury Law is not only fearless but experienced. We want to fight for your legal right to hold all parties accountable, including careless police departments that hope to hide behind immunity.

Your case could also involve other negligent parties, making it hard to get to the bottom of who owes what. We’ll sort through all of the evidence and details to piece together a clear picture of where compensation should come from — and to how much you should be entitled.

We’re ready to start fighting for your personal liberties, legal rights, and ability to claim full compensation. Find out more about what options are available and how much your case could be worth when you call (203) 590-9169 or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential case review with no obligation.