News of police pursuits causing injuries and accidents are not uncommon.
A U.S. Department of Justice study has named police pursuits as one of the most dangerous on-the-job activity. According to the study, there are more police car chases than there are police shootings. Another study conducted by USA Today found that there are more accidents and injuries caused by police chases in Chicago than there are anywhere else in the country (with the exception of LA). A large number of those injured are innocent bystanders.
Injury Caused by Policy Chases
- 108 fatalities and 216 injuries occurred due to police car pursuits in the past 10 years.
- Between 2006 and 2012, 18 bystanders not involved in the chase were injured.
- From 2013 to 2016, another 18 deaths occurred.
- 48% of those injured in police car pursuits are bystanders whereas only 11% are pursuing police, 17% fleeing passengers and 18% fleeing drivers.
- More than 5,000 bystanders have been killed in police pursuits since 1979 in the U.S.
- Total deaths caused by police pursuits increased to 322 in 2013 from 317 in 1990.
Increase in Bystander Accidents
According to both studies conducted, Chicago’s policies with regards to pursuits are contributing to an increased number of accidents. Certain cities allow police officers to chase only suspects of a violent felony or to chase a suspect only if the risk of letting the suspect go outweighs the risks of chasing. Pursuits of a suspect in Chicago are left to the discretion of the police officer. This can result in hasty split-second decisions that can seriously increase risks of injury and accidents for others. According to statistics from the Justice Department:
- One-third of all car chase-related crashes in Chicago started because of a traffic violation.
- 13% involve suspected stolen vehicles.
- 32% of fleeing drivers flee because of stolen cars.
- 30% of suspects had suspended driving licenses.
- 21% were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Lack of Consistent Data
According to the NHTSA, the number of deaths caused by police car pursuits are under-reported, due to inconsistent reporting. The report does not clarify whether the pursuit crash victim was a bystander or was involved in the police car chase. The agency also does not maintain data of those police chase accidents that only result in injuries. The Chicago Police Department’s Traffic Review Board maintains data of police pursuits that have led to serious injury or death via a bi-monthly review. This data is not available to the general public.
Chicago Car Crash Attorney
In cases of police pursuit accidents, the legalities surrounding compensation for injuries and fatalities are complex. If you were injured as an innocent bystander, consult a Chicago car crash attorney to protect your legal rights. Call Willens Law Offices at (312) 957-4166.