High-speed chases on the freeway are the kind of dramatic event that seem to be made for the movie screen. One such chase was all too real for a victim who was injured in a crash in Georgia in 2013. What resulted from the chase was a seriously injured victim and a lawsuit against the sheriff’s deputies who conducted the investigation. When you are involved in a case like this, it is important to contact an Atlanta personal injury lawyer for help.
This case, Wingler v. White, began in February of 2013 when a deputy sheriff observed a car straddling the centerline of highway road. He was on patrol that day looking for drug traffickers, and because the license plate was from out of state, he decided to pull the driver over. When the officer put on his blue lights, the driver did not stop. That is when the pursuit began.
High-Speed Chase and a Crash
The man trying to avoid being pulled over by the police led them on a chase that went through several counties, over 45 miles, and reached speeds of over 120 m.p.h. The original deputy chasing the man was unable to continue the chase after his car was disabled, but neighboring county deputies picked up the chase once it came into their county, and continued it until the man crashed into an innocent bystander, seriously injuring him.
Once the dust settled, the injured victim could not sue the man who was fleeing because he was serving a 20-year sentence for fleeing the police and causing this accident. The victim did sue the sheriff’s deputies for negligence in pursuing this kind of chase in heavy traffic for nothing more than a simple traffic violation. Their case was based on negligence in how the police used a county vehicle. This kind of case is a complex undertaking, best left to a qualified, Atlanta personal injury lawyer.
Court is Overturned
At the trial court level, the case was dismissed based on a legal theory known as sovereign immunity. This theory states that a state or one of its agents (like a sheriff or police department) cannot be sued without their permission, unless there is some state law allowing it. The victim correctly pointed out that OCGA §§ 33-24-51 (b) allows a state actor to be sued when they negligently use county vehicles. That a police department can be sued when a police officer recklessly disregards police department rules regarding chases.
Once the case was appealed, the court of appeals reversed. They stated that when the facts were shown to favor the victim, it was clear that there was a case to be made to a jury to decide whether the police were negligent in using their vehicles in this case, and that they violated police protocols by continuing the chase. After all, the case originated because of a simple traffic violation, there was heavy traffic and high speeds that ended in an injury, and there were no warrants out for the man’s arrest.
Your Personal Injury Attorney in Atlanta
Cases like these can be difficult to pursue and win, but not impossible. If you are the victim of an automobile accident, you need a qualified personal injury attorney serving Atlanta to represent you and your interests. At The Angell Law Firm, we handle cases like these, and all others to ensure that our clients get what they deserve after suffering an accident. Contact us today.
(image courtesy of Denys Nevozhai)