High-Speed Police Chase Kills Motorcyclist

A high-speed pursuit in Acworth ended badly when a motorcyclist, allegedly racing another motorcyclist, struck a Honda Accord. The rider died at the scene.

Prior to the crash, Georgia State Patrol troopers were assisting the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office in pursuing two motorcycle drivers who were racing on GA-3 near Mockingbird Road. Troopers began chasing one of the riders, who continued driving “in a reckless manner” into Cobb County.

According to investigators, the motorcyclist was approaching the intersection at high speed and struck a Honda Accord that was making a left turn. The motorcycle driver, a male, died at the scene. The driver of the Honda was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

High-Speed Police Chases

Reckless police shootings dominate the news headlines. But reckless police chases kill and seriously injure far more people than shootings. Generally, the same controversial doctrine that absolves police officers in shooting cases also absolves them in chase cases. More on that below.

Many law enforcement agencies have anti-chase policies. But these policies are usually vague. Generally, they permit chases if the suspect endangers public safety. That broad requirement could apply to almost any criminal infraction.

Occasionally, police departments and other such agencies make more restrictive policies. But officers usually oppose them. In public, they say they cannot pick and choose when and where to enforce the laws. In private, they usually admit that they get an adrenaline rush when they try to “get the bad guy.”

When public policies do not protect people, a Marietta personal injury attorney must take up that mantle. Usually, an attorney can get around the official immunity doctrine and hold officers responsible for damages in these situations if the chase was legally reckless. Some factors to consider include the following:

  • Alleged offense,
  • Time of day,
  • Character of the area (e.g., was it residential or commercial), and
  • Alternatives available.

Many James Bond-like gadgets are available. For example, officers could tag a vehicle with a GPS locator and arrest the driver later. However, mostly for the aforementioned adrenaline issues, officers often don’t use these gadgets.

Alternatively, a Marietta personal injury attorney could prove the officers violated an anti-chase policy. As mentioned, written policies are usually vague. Dispatcher instructions, like “do not pursue,” are usually more specific.

Liability Issues

When victims sue a police department or other government agency, they must normally file a notice of claim before they file legal paperwork. A notice of claim gives a government agency a chance to quietly settle an injury claim before it goes to court and becomes public record. 

If the government does not make a reasonable settlement offer within a few weeks, a Marietta personal injury attorney can usually take the next step.

Usually, the police department or other agency that employed the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is financially responsible for damages. The respondeat superior rule generally applies if the tortfeasor was an employee who was working in the course and scope of employment at the time of the wreck.

Ironically, the nature of a high-speed police chase claim creates some issues. As mentioned, these wrecks happen because police officers recklessly disregard established procedure. Therefore, the defendant could argue that the officer was not within the scope of employment at the time, and the defendant is not financially responsible for damages.

This complexity is just one of the many wrinkles in a claim when a victim tries to fight city hall. So, only the most experienced lawyers should handle these matters.

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