Family members killed after high-speed chase ends in crash
The Houston Chronicle reports that a high-speed chase ended when an alleged drunk driver wanted by the police smashed into a Honda Accord, killing a man and a woman, their teenage son and another passenger. The car crash happened on the evening of August 10 in League City, Texas. The driver and his passenger were also killed in the accident.
According to police records, the driver law enforcement officers were chasing was wanted on a felony DWI warrant. Police tried to pull over the driver because his vehicle was swerving and did not have its headlights on. Instead of stopping, the driver took off at speeds in excess of 100 mph with police in pursuit. The fleeing driver hit one vehicle at an intersection, causing minimal damage and no injuries. He then drove through a stop sign and struck the Honda Accord.
League City police are investigating the police chase, which lasted about 90 seconds, as well as the subsequent accident. When law enforcement officers decide to pursue a vehicle, they must balance a number of risk factors to determine if it is the best and safest course of action. Even after the pursuit has commenced, officers must continually reassess their actions and the safety of other drivers and bystanders.
Police departments nationally are well aware of the risks of these chases, and usually try to avoid them as much as possible. These pursuits can be incredibly unsafe, as fleeing cars often take extreme risks like running stop signs and red lights – just as the driver in League City reportedly did. In addition, the faster a vehicle is moving, the greater the risk for a serious collision.
Assessing liability in a car crash
When a fatal motor vehicle accident occurs, a number of parties might be at fault. One driver might sue another for negligence, claiming that the other motorists’ action (or inaction) caused the crash and resulting injuries. To successfully make a case for negligence, parties must show that the defendant owed them a duty of care, failed to perform that duty and that they suffered injuries caused by that breach.
With the fatal crash in League City, it is possible that a plaintiff – in this case, the estate or surviving family – could successfully argue that the fleeing motorist was negligent in failing to observe the posted stop sign and striking the Honda Accord. However, parties other than the drivers could also be liable for negligence or wrongful death in a collision.
In this instance, the surviving family members of the deceased occupants in the Honda Accord could potentially bring a claim against the League City Police Department for creating an unsafe hazard in pursuing the fleeing motorist. Plaintiffs might argue that the police department had a duty not to create unnecessary risk of harm, and the danger of the risk outweighed any potential benefit in apprehending the wanted individual.
They might also argue that the officers failed to uphold this duty of care in pursuing the vehicle, even after the chase had reached dangerous speeds and the driver had already struck one motorist. Then, the claimants would have to show that their injuries – the deaths of the family members – were a result of the officers’ failure to perform their duty of care.
When a person is injured or killed in a car crash, multiple parties might be to blame. If you or someone close to you has been injured in an auto accident, contact a Plano, Texas personal injury attorney to discuss your options for taking legal action.
Keywords: drunk driving, accident, wrongful death, injury