As a driver on the roads (or a passenger in a vehicle), one faces many potential risks. There are aggressive (“road rage”) drivers, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, and careless drivers, to name a few. All of these types of drivers have the potential to cause accidents that inflict serious harm. Unfortunately, another category is injuries caused by high-speed law enforcement chases. In two instances in recent years in the Chicago area, high-speed pursuits have inflicted fatal injuries on innocent drivers. Both of those cases settled, with each family receiving several million dollars in their respective settlements. Whether your injury was related to a high-speed police chase or another type of liability, you should make sure you have a knowledgeable Illinois car accident attorney to help you put together a strong case.
The first of the two accidents took place in May 2013. Jacqueline was headed to a funeral at around 10:15 a.m. when an SUV ran a red light and crashed into her car. The South Side accident left the occupants of the SUV, two police officers, injured and Jacqueline dead. The officers had been chasing an individual who was a suspect in a home burglary, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Although there was no evidence found indicating that a weapon was involved in the crime, Chicago police engaged in a high-speed chase. The pursuit involved numerous red lights at which the suspect and officers “blew through” red lights. The officer who struck Jacqueline hit speeds of 74 mph as the chase moved through mostly residential areas of the South Side. The officer’s SUV was going an estimated 68 mph when it slammed into Jacqueline’s Pontiac sedan, according to the Tribune report.
A little less than a year later, a similar accident in Calumet Park left one dead. Again the origin of the accident was a high-speed police chase. The suspect ran a red light and crashed into a Lexus. In this accident, the victim was a fellow officer, a 42-year-old Chicago police officer named David, who was headed home after his shift.
The pursuing officer’s decision to engage in a high-speed chase was not consistent with his force’s rules. He pursued the white van because he believed it was stolen. Calumet Park rules state, however, that officers should not engage in high-speed pursuits of stolen vehicles unless that vehicle was involved in a violent felony. There was no evidence that the white van had been used in such a crime. The top supervisor on duty ordered the officer to cease the chase, but he didn’t, the Tribune reported.
In these cases, having expert witness evidence to testify that the officers who engaged in the high-speed chases were reckless is often important. David’s family had as a police pursuit expert a police officer who was the former police chief in Boca Raton, Fla. Both experts testified that the officer’s continued high-speed pursuit of the van broke many rules, with one expert stating that the action “was conducted in a willful and wanton manner which showed a reckless disregard for police standards and the safety of the public.”
In Jacqueline’s case, the city admitted liability. The family received an award of $3.5 million. In David’s case, the village ultimately agreed to pay the family almost $7.1 million, in addition to $2.4 million in attorneys’ fees that the family racked up pursuing their case.
While no amount of money can take the place of a lost loved one, legal action and the payments that come from it can help ease a family’s financial burden that was created when that loved one died. If you have lost a loved one due to a driver’s reckless or wanton conduct behind the wheel, talk to the knowledgeable Chicago wrongful death attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our attorneys have been helping injured drivers and passengers for many years pursue their legal rights. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Taking on an Illinois Auto Accident Case When You Were Hit by Multiple Other Drivers, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Dec. 7, 2017
Illinois Appellate Court Upholds $26M Judgment Against Cab Company, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, May 16, 2017