Police Chase Kills Teenage Girl
A 17-year-old girl was killed when she missed a turn and her vehicle tumbled down an embankment as a deputy sheriff was in hot pursuit.
According to the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy saw the girl’s car and another car parked in the side lot of a Dollar General store after hours. The deputy got back in his patrol vehicle and chased the Camry, which made a sudden left turn onto Richardson Boulevard. Since the vehicle was moving too fast for the turn, the Camry ran off the right side of the road and down an embankment, crashing into the wooded area
The girl, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was declared dead at the scene.
High-Speed Police Chases and Negligence
Police officers don’t have to strictly obey speed limits and other traffic laws during pursuits. However, this immunity is not unlimited. If a Columbia personal injury attorney proves officers were reckless. Evidence of recklessness includes:
- Nature of the Offense: Most suspects, like the one in the above story, allegedly committed non-violent offenses. In fact, many chase suspects committed traffic violations. There’s no reason to risk lives in these situations.
- Chase Environment: This factor includes things like the time of day and general location. A high-speed chase during the day or evening when other cars are on the road and other people are on the sidewalk is extremely dangerous under any circumstances. Likewise a pursuit through a populated area is much more dangerous than a pursuit through a remote area.
- Pursuit Tactics: Some officers use aggressive and dangerous tactics during chases. A PIT (precise immobilization technique) maneuver is a good example. A pursuing officer rams a fleeing suspect’s car, causing the driver to careen out of control.
Violations of formal and informal policies are also evidence of negligence in these situations. Many law enforcement agencies have strict anti-pursuit policies. Other times, a dispatcher gives officers instructions, like “do not pursue” or “pursue with extreme caution.”
The Seat Belt Defense in South Carolina
Reckless high-speed chases kill and injure many more people than reckless police shootings. Wrecks that involve victims who weren’t wearing a seat belt are even more common.
The so-called seat belt defense varies significantly in different states. In some jurisdictions, victims who don’t wear seat belts cannot sue responsible drivers and obtain compensation. But in the Palmetto State, failure to wear a seat belt is inadmissible to prove contributory negligence or reduce the victim’s damages.
This position may seem odd, because it goes against principles of personal responsibility. However, S.C. Stat. Code § 56-5-6540(C) is consistent with other provisions of state law. Wearing or not wearing a seat belt is completely unrelated to the cause of a crash. Furthermore, under state law, victims don’t have a duty to mitigate (voluntarily reduce) their damages before their injury. Otherwise, Columbia personal injury attorneys would have to wear crash helmets and fireproof suits when they drive back and forth to work.
Compensation in a vehicle collision claim usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Reach Out to a Hard-Working Richland County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbia, contact the Marc Brown Law Firm. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.