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Pennsylvania Police Chase Accident Law-Police Liability for Bystander Injury or Death

Police chases often result in injury, not only to officers and those being pursued, but also to innocent bystanders. Each police department has its own policies and procedures detailing pursuit or chase protocol. In many instances of injury or death, a department’s policy or procedure was violated. Police chase accident lawsuits often boil down to whether the police apprehension technique was reasonable.

There are several types of apprehension techniques used by police:

  • actual pursuit,
  • road spikes,
  • road blocks,
  • use of firearms, and
  • air support, such as helicopters

Fast Moving Police CarThe reasonableness of a pursuit technique depends on the circumstances, such as time of day, area of pursuit, and the crime which initiated the pursuit.

Pennsylvania law is clear that police departments can be sued as a result of negligent conduct which contributes to an injury in a police chase or vehicle pursuit situation. For instance, police departments could be sued for negligence in initiating a chase or pursuit or for failing to follow proper chase procedure and protocol.

The seminal case was Jones v. Chieffo, a 1997 Pennsylvania Supreme court case.  In Jones, the court overruled a prior Pennsylvania court decision which did not allow such lawsuits against police. The Jones court held that police departments cannot avail themselves of the principle of government immunity in such situations and thus are not immune from liability when its negligence, along with a third party’s negligence, causes harm or injury.

Access our article for more information about Pennsylvania police chases statistics in 2010.

If you’d like to have your case reviewed by our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania police chase accident and injury lawyers, call 215.925.4451. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation.

*This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is important to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case.  See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

The personal injury lawyers at Schwartz & Blackman handle cases in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:

  • PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
  • NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities



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