People understand that police chases are dangerous, and they do their best to avoid interfering when the police are pursuing a suspect. However, it is important that the police choose judiciously when to attempt to capture a suspect. While it is understandable that the police do not want to permit a possible criminal to avoid punishment, it is more important that they do not place citizens in unnecessary danger.
This article from the Flint Journal describes the perilous police pursuits that have come under fire in Genesee County, and in particular, in Flint, Michigan. Community members have strongly criticized state police troopers who continue after drivers who do not stop for minor traffic violations. In the past month, two mothers have died, and people in the community are claiming that their lives are needlessly at risk. The two deaths in the last month are equivalent to all the deaths in Flint from police chases between 2005-2013. Furthermore, there is no common policy between the police authorities in Genesee County. Research from the Flint Journal has determined that police officers are granted a great deal of authority regarding the initiation of pursuits and the police rely on the officer’s judgement as to when the pursuit should end. The Michigan State police have stated that there are eight factors that troopers should consider before deciding to pursue a suspect. The factors are: the nature of the violation; the presence of pedestrians; the traffic conditions; the population density of the area; weather and road conditions; the officer’s familiarity with the area; the officer’s familiarity with the suspect; and if non-department personnel are in the cruiser.
Police Chases Lead to Accidents
Jacqueline Nichols was recently killed when a police cruiser struck her vehicle as the officer pursued a suspect for a traffic violation. Ms. Nichols’ family has a pending lawsuit against the police. The family will attempt to prove in civil court that the police behaved negligently and that this negligence led to her death. Incidents such as this, unfortunately, have become prevalent in Flint, Michigan. In the last nine years, Flint has had more crashes related to police chases than the rest of Genesee County combined. There have been more than 250 pursuit-related crashes; nearly 75 injuries or fatalities arose from these crashes.
What is negligence?
The family of Ms. Nichols is attempting to demonstrate that the police behaved negligently, so it is important to understand the legal principle of negligence. Negligence is the failure to behave at a standard of care that a reasonable person who utilized ordinary prudence would have exercised under similar circumstances. Negligence is usually within a behavior that a person commits, but a person can also be negligent when the person did not act yet should have done so. To establish a case of negligence, on its face, there are five elements that a party must establish: the existence of a legal duty to exercise reasonable care; a failure to exercise reasonable care; cause in fact of physical harm by the negligent conduct; physical harm in the form of actual damages; and proximate cause, a showing that the harm is within the scope of liability.
If you are involved in a traffic accident in the state of Michigan, contact the Clark Law Office. We are prepared to gather the evidence necessary to help you secure the compensation that you deserve.