Prosecutors Take Action In July 2022 Police Chase Crash
The charges stem from a high speed-police pursuit of a 12-year-old driver that ended in a dual fatal crash.
The preteen, who said he went out shortly after midnight to pick up food, was traveling over 100mph when he fled from police and smacked into a vehicle turning left from Dorchester Road onto Michaux Parkway. Officers initially tried to pull him over for a broken tail light. About a month after the fatal wreck, the preteen said he didn’t pull over because he was afraid of police officers. He also claims he didn’t remember the crash. “This is a chapter that cannot be closed until justice is served,” Ronnie Wilson, the uncle of the two victims, said.
Wet roads may have contributed to the wreck, according to investigators.
Reckless high-speed chases are the most dangerous, and most preventable, police excessive force injuries in South Carolina.
In the 1990s, the Department of Justice advised local law enforcement agencies to restrict or eliminate high-speed chases. Most agencies have ignored that advice, at least in part. A few local law enforcement agencies have vague anti-chase policies, like “officers should use caution in these situations,” which are practically meaningless.
Nevertheless, if officers disregard clear written or ad hoc policies (e.g. a dispatcher tells officers to back off), a Columbia car accident lawyer can usually establish negligence, or a lack of care. It’s negligent to ignore the industry standard or a company policy.
In the absence of a clear policy, circumstantial evidence is also available in these situations. Such evidence includes:
- Time of day or night,
- Traffic conditions,
- Suspect’s alleged offense,
- Environmental conditions, and
- Area’s makeup (e.g. commercial, residential, or industrial).
Regarding the above story, these factors are mixed. Traffic was probably light at 1 a.m. However, the suspect was driving without a license, which is a nonviolent felony, and the road was wet.
As mentioned, high-speed chases are preventable. Advanced devices, like shootable GPS trackers, could eliminate them. Officers shoot a tracker onto a vehicle and arrest the suspect at a later, and safer, time.
Third Party Liability
In the above story, a Columbia personal injury attorney could probably obtain compensation from the boy’s mother or from the City of North Charleston.
Such cases are rather complex in the Palmetto State. Usually, according to South Carolina law, “The head of a family who owns, furnishes, and maintains a vehicle for the general use and convenience of his family is liable for the negligence of a family member having general authority to operate the vehicle for such a purpose.”
The wet roads may have contributed to the wreck. However, driver negligence, or perhaps police department negligence, caused that wreck.
If the officer was negligent, the city is responsible for damages, under the respondeat superior rule. Employers are liable for damages if their employees are negligent during the course and scope of their employment.
On a related note, when victim/plaintiffs take action against government entities, they must usually file a notice of claim. This notice allows the city to settle the matter quietly, before it goes to court and becomes public record.
Damages in a car crash or other personal injury claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Connect With a Diligent 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. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.