Living in Southern California, we’ve all become accustomed to seeing police chases on the nightly news. It seems like the police chase was invented in SoCal.
As a Los Angeles accident attorney, I was recently asked about this issue. Are the police liable for injuries caused when a police vehicle collides with another during a high-speed chase?
It’s a complex issue, and like many legal questions, the answer depends on several factors.
As a general rule, California Vehicle Code Section 17004.7 provides that cities and municipalities are generally immune from these types of cases. That means that as a starting point, police cannot be sued by someone injured in a police chase, whether those injuries were caused by the fleeing vehicle or the squad car.
The Code does advise each police agency to promulgate written policies for police pursuits. It is not obligatory for police departments to have these policies, although many do. The California Commission on Peace Officers, or POST, offers lengthy guidelines on its website, which you can read here.
Police pursuits can yield tragic results, especially in a densely populated city like Los Angeles. Whether or not the police would be liable depends on several factors. Consult an attorney for questions about your particular case.
Remember that if you hear or see a blaring siren, move to the right and stay out of the car’s way.
And if you have questions about your case, the Rabbi Lawyer is always ready to assist.