While a police chase may seem exciting, the fact is that many of them end with an accident that may involve innocent citizens that were in no way connected to the officers or the person being pursued.
Police Car & Train Car Collide
In the minutes leading up to the accident, a female officer attempted to stop a man who was illegally riding his bike on the sidewalk but the bike rider took off. She attempted to follow in her cruiser but a moment after the chase began, she came upon double train tracks. The lights warning on an oncoming train flashed and the gate lowered, blocking oncoming traffic.
The officer stopped her cruiser and watched as an inbound train crossed in front of her. Then, even though the lights were still flashing and the gate was still lowered, she decided to proceed and drove around the gates onto the tracks. What she didn’t see was an outbound train coming through the intersection.
Her police cruiser struck the second car on the outbound train and caused it to jump from the track. Luckily, the car was able to regain its place on the track instead of tipping over, however, the operator wasn’t as lucky.
The 48-year-old operator had been bounced around inside of the car due to the impact and knew immediately that he had been injured. When an ambulance arrived, he was taken to the hospital immediately with chest pain and anxiety. The ER doctors released him later in the day but he was soon back in the hospital with back pain and was finally diagnosed herniated disks from L4 – S1.
Over the next three years, he required physical therapy, epidural injections, and surgery. The cost of these medical treatments reached over $300,000 and he was unable to return to work as a train operator because of his limited range of motion.
Train Operator Files Lawsuit Against The City
The train operator filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that the officer involved in the accident had chosen to act in a willful and wanton manner, disregarding the safety of others. He also alleged that a general police order had required officers to balance the need to pursue vs the danger created by the chase and that based on that order, the officer should have recognized that the need to chase the suspect was not as great as the danger.
The defendant argued that the suspect the officer had been chasing was a suspected gang member and that since he was on a bike, the order didn’t stand as it was supposed to apply to a chase involving only automobiles.
The plaintiff and defendant were unable to reach a settlement agreement and the case went to trial where the jury sided with the plaintiff and awarded him $2.5 million for past and future medical expenses and for physical pain and suffering.
How Are Future Medical Expenses Determined?
Prior to going to trial, there is a period of time known as the discovery phase. During discovery, the plaintiff’s lawyer will review their medical records, consult with their doctor about any medical procedures or complications that can be expected because of their injuries, and then will often reach out to a medical specialist who can testify in addition to the plaintiff’s regular physician. This way, the jury can obtain a sense of how much the plaintiff may be expected to pay for additional treatments in the future.
Is It Really Possible To Sue A City?
Absolutely. In civil lawsuits, the defendant is the party whose negligence resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. This can be an individual, a company, or even a government entity. At Banville Law, our team believes there is no negligent party too big or too small – if their negligence caused our client harm, we will use our passion, experience, and dedication to fight for the compensation our client both needs and deserves.