Four people were injured following a police chase on March 31. This yet again demonstrates the dangers of criminals driving carelessly during a police chase. But what happens when an innocent person is seriously injured or killed by a criminal during a police chase they were never apart of? Sadly, this is one situation where the law has a lot of gray areas.
Who is Responsible for Injuries Incurred During a Police Chase?
Generally, the law holds the reckless or negligent driver accountable. However, this doesn’t mean the at-fault driver will have any money or means to pay for the losses. This is why we turn to insurance policies to see what sources of compensation may exist for injured victims. Among the possible sources of compensation are:
The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance. If the at-fault driver has an insurance policy, that would be the first place a victim should turn in order to find compensation. Of course, most insurance contracts expressly exclude coverage when their insured driver is involved in a police chase or committing a felony or other criminal act. Therefore, an experienced Missouri auto accident lawyer can help to determine whether the at-fault driver’s insurance policy should pay.
- Restitution Payments. If the at-fault driver is arrested and charged with a crime, a court may award restitution, meaning the suspect is required to make compensatory payments to victims. Of course, these are usually very small in comparison to the actual injuries suffered.
- The Vehicle Owner. There is a concept in the law known as ‘permissive use.’ This theory says if you let someone use your vehicle and they go hurt someone, then your vehicle insurance should cover those injuries. If someone loaned the vehicle to the at-fault driver, then there may be coverage available through the owner’s policy.
- The Police Department. Depending on the circumstances, there are times when officers exceed common sense and reason in pursuing people through busy intersections or school zones during a police chase. If the police directly or indirectly caused a crash that killed or injured innocent bystanders, then injury victims may have a right to file a claim for injuries against the police department. These are very rare claims.
- Uninsured Motorist Policies. More commonly, if you are injured by a criminal in a police chase, then there will be no liability insurance available. This may be because the vehicle is stolen, or it can be because the at-fault driver is a criminal, and therefore does not carry insurance or have any means to pay. In these unfortunate circumstances, it is generally best to file a claim for uninsured motorist coverage through one’s own insurance company.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Just Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim from a police chase?
Not always. Sadly, however, many insurance companies fight just as hard to avoid paying their own customers as they would someone else — even if they were unjustly injured in a police chase.
At the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm, we fight to help you collect compensation for your injuries, no matter if it’s your insurance company or someone else’s who is required to pay. The goal is to make sure you do not get stuck with medical bills, lost wages, and other losses when it’s not your fault. Call or visit us online today.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.