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Car crashes in police chases plague Louisiana Parishes

Louisiana parishes seem to be plagued by lawsuits resulting from police chases. Car crashes are a real possibility during police pursuits, and depending on the circumstances, those accidents can be serious and even deadly. Some people believe that the many pursuits are reckless and unwarranted.

Most recently, a man who police say was recklessly driving a four-wheeler on a public road filed a lawsuit after he was injured during a police chase. He claims the patrol car rear-ended him, which caused him to lose control of the four-wheeler and crash, resulted in him suffering serious injuries. The department asserts that the patrol car never hit the man's vehicle and will let the court decide the case.

In 2012, a high-speed pursuit ensued in another parish after two men allegedly shoplifted items from an outlet mall. That chase ended in a crash in which people were injured or died. Lawsuits stemming from that incident were settled out of court.

Louisiana law enforcement officials are required to assess the risks of pursuing a suspect vehicle. The safety of the officers, the suspects and the public at large is to take precedence over a continued attempt to apprehend the party or parties accused of committing a crime. Many would argue that putting people at risk over minor infractions such as shoplifting or a minor traffic offense is unnecessary.

It is not only suspected criminals that suffer serious or deadly injuries in these car crashes. Innocent people are often "caught in the crossfire" during pursuits. These victims -- or their families in the case of death -- retain the right to file civil actions against all of the parties believed responsible, including law enforcement officers and the departments by which they are employed. Any damages awarded in a case where negligence is proved could help with the financial losses incurred by the victims and/or their families.

Source: theadvocate.com, "Lawsuit over high-speed chase is the latest in a series of such lawsuits in Ascension Parish", David J. Mitchell, April 8, 2015

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