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    JimGunther's Avatar
    JimGunther Posts: 436, Reputation: 38
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    #1

    Apr 15, 2008, 12:16 PM
    Thought on high-speed police chases
    Let's say I am tooling down the road at 30 or 40 miles an hour over the limit. I'm weaving in and out of traffic, passing on the wrong side, maybe even the shoulder, and causing some real problems for those on the highway that I encounter in my travels.

    I happen to notice that there is a car behind me, following my every move. He's doing the same thing I'm doing move for move.

    So, awhile down the road, it happens. Someone doesn't take evasion action quick enough to avoid the dangerous situation I caused and a horrendous crash ensues. Perhaps even a few people get killed.

    The car behind me, who was doing the same thing, doesn't hit anyone. They keep on going, or maybe even stop to assist those that I injured by my actions.

    What share in the fault for the accident should the person who was driving the car behind me, and was doing everything I did, but didn't hit anyone, share? How much should they be liable?

    That's the easy, and the trick part of the question. The obvious answer is, none! But you might be surprised to know that many, many persons feel the driver of the other car SHOULD be liable for the accident, even though they didn't hit anyone and didn't cause the accident! Why? Because the person in the other car was a police officer with flashing lights on trying to get me to stop!

    The Supreme Court has ruled that in such a case, there must be something like gross negligence shown on the part of the police officer for them to be liable. Can any of you come up with a valid reason as to why so many people think that having the flashing red lights on a police vehicle while trying to get someone like this off the road makes them liable for the other driver's bad conduct?
    RickJ's Avatar
    RickJ Posts: 7,762, Reputation: 864
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    #2

    Apr 15, 2008, 12:25 PM
    There is none. Police in many states realize that if they "chase" - and therefore "push" the idiot to further speed and dangerous driving - then they may be liable.

    No, I don't agree with that, but that's the way that this nation is headed: The courts too often let the blame be put on someone else...

    I abuse kids because I was abused as a child...
    I drove too fast and wreckless because someone was chasing me and forcing me to do so...
    I beat my kids because my daddy beat me...

    ...

    No, I'm not a gloom and doomer, I just call 'em as I see 'em.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,503, Reputation: 4600
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    #3

    Apr 15, 2008, 12:40 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by JimGunther
    Let's say I am tooling down the road at 30 or 40 miles an hour over the limit. I'm weaving in and out of traffic, passing on the wrong side, maybe even the shoulder, and causing some real problems for those on the highway that I encounter in my travels.

    I happen to notice that there is a car behind me, following my every move. He's doing the same thing I'm doing move for move.

    So, awhile down the road, it happens. Someone doesn't take evasion action quick enough to avoid the dangerous situation I caused and a horrendous crash ensues. Perhaps even a few people get killed.

    The car behind me, who was doing the same thing, doesn't hit anyone. They keep on going, or maybe even stop to assist those that I injured by my actions.

    What share in the fault for the accident should the person who was driving the car behind me, and was doing everything I did, but didn't hit anyone, share? How much should they be liable?

    That's the easy, and the trick part of the question. The obvious answer is, none!! But you might be surprised to know that many, many persons feel the driver of the other car SHOULD be liable for the accident, even though they didn't hit anyone and didn't cause the accident! Why? Because the person in the other car was a police officer with flashing lights on trying to get me to stop!

    The Supreme Court has ruled that in such a case, there must be something like gross negligence shown on the part of the police officer for them to be liable. Can any of you come up with a valid reason as to why so many people think that having the flashing red lights on a police vehicle while trying to get someone like this off the road makes them liable for the other driver's bad conduct?

    I think this is a question for a discussion board, not a legal board and perhaps it will be moved.

    That being said I have investigated several of these and the legal argument by the Attorney for the innocent injured party(ies) is that the Police Officer CAUSED the reckless and dangerous driving by pursuing the reckless driver who then attempted to evade the Police.

    Juries have decided in some cases that the Police should have pulled off and, therefore, are responsible; they have decided in other cases that the reckless driving was so extreme that the Police had no choice but to try to stop the reckless driver.

    What is your basis for your "many, many people feel - " statement - ? These are the people Attorneys try to get on the jury.

    (I find your explanation of the accident a little confusing but I think I understand it.)
    RickJ's Avatar
    RickJ Posts: 7,762, Reputation: 864
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    #4

    Apr 15, 2008, 12:42 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by JudyKayTee
    I think this is a question for a discussion board, not a legal board and perhaps it will be moved.
    Agreed. It's been moved ;)
    Scleros's Avatar
    Scleros Posts: 2,165, Reputation: 262
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    #5

    Apr 15, 2008, 01:17 PM
    It takes two vehicles to have a chase. Once the second vehicle is removed from the situation, the first vehicle now has no external influence affecting its behavior. Why do so many police officers believe the laws of physics do not apply to them? Are the police so stupid that they cannot retrieve a license plate from their video camera and subdue the suspect quietly at their home or workplace when they least expect it?

    No, the police get off on the chase. Control and domination is in their psychological makeup. It takes a certain type of person to pursue a career in law enforcement. Few people have respect for such ego.

    Then there is the issue of values. Police place a high value on arbitrary law or lack thereof. People place a high value on personal safety, life, and property. When suspect and police risk an individual's safety, life, and property to satiate a desire for lawfulness a conflict of priorities results. I personally do not give a rat's a** if J. Doe is driving on an expired license as long as it doesn't affect me; it's an issue between the DMV and him. Now enter police and a chase ensues, property is damaged, life perhaps is lost, and for what? An arbitrary rule was broken.

    If law is so valuable to risk so much, holding J. Doe accountable by choosing to create a set of circumstances that will likely break more of them doesn't seem logical. If a single 90mph vehicle is deemed lawfully wrong, two 90 mph vehicles is doubly wrong. The suspect has the choice of accepting the consequence of his actions or fleeing. The police have the choice of controlled apprehension later or pursuing immediately. The public merely wants both parties held accountable for their own actions in the destruction that ensues.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,302, Reputation: 7692
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    #6

    Apr 15, 2008, 02:26 PM
    It would work if the car was not stolen or if it was not a joy ride and if after they find the car the owner swears and claims it was not him, so the courts will not hold the owner liable, since you can't prove who the driver was.

    If that person had just raped a child, do you chase them, if they had justed killed one person doyou chase, do you chase if they killed 4.

    But the law has always been clear, at least until lately when liberals who hate police want to do away with the protection police have.
    But if the one person doing the criminal act is doing something illegal, they are responsible for actions cuased by their act. A bank robber pulls a gun and shoots, the police officer shoots back but the police officer hits the hostage, It is the bank robber that is charged with the hostiges death not the police officer
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,503, Reputation: 4600
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    #7

    Apr 15, 2008, 02:57 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Scleros
    It takes two vehicles to have a chase. Once the second vehicle is removed from the situation, the first vehicle now has no external influence affecting its behavior. Why do so many police officers believe the laws of physics do not apply to them? Are the police so stupid that they cannot retrieve a license plate from their video camera and subdue the suspect quietly at their home or workplace when they least expect it?

    No, the police get off on the chase. Control and domination is in their psychological makeup. It takes a certain type of person to pursue a career in law enforcement. Few people have respect for such ego.

    Then there is the issue of values. Police place a high value on arbitrary law or lack thereof. People place a high value on personal safety, life, and property. When suspect and police risk an individual's safety, life, and property to satiate a desire for lawfulness a conflict of priorities results. I personally do not give a rat's a** if J. Doe is driving on an expired license as long as it doesn't affect me; it's an issue between the DMV and him. Now enter police and a chase ensues, property is damaged, life perhaps is lost, and for what? An arbitrary rule was broken.

    If law is so valuable to risk so much, holding J. Doe accountable by choosing to create a set of circumstances that will likely break more of them doesn't seem logical. If a single 90mph vehicle is deemed lawfully wrong, two 90 mph vehicles is doubly wrong. The suspect has the choice of accepting the consequence of his actions or fleeing. The police have the choice of controlled apprehension later or pursuing immediately. The public merely wants both parties held accountable for their own actions in the destruction that ensues.

    I think your generalities discredit your opinion. You cannot lump all Police into one category or way of thinking; you cannot lump all "people" into one category or way of thinking. You cannot lump all Police chases into one scenario, one particularly "harmless" violation (such as driving with expired plates).

    Next time somebody is tearing down the highway at 90 mph - your quote - you try to get their license plate number, with or without a video camera.

    I think there are exceptions to every rule and you have disregarded them. Thank goodness juries have not!
    Scleros's Avatar
    Scleros Posts: 2,165, Reputation: 262
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    #8

    Apr 15, 2008, 03:24 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by JudyKayTee
    I think there are exceptions to every rule and you have disregarded them.
    Nope, I'm one of those liberals who hates police.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,503, Reputation: 4600
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    #9

    Apr 15, 2008, 04:00 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by Scleros
    Nope, I'm one of those liberals who hates police.

    And insurance companies. Good to spread it around.
    Scleros's Avatar
    Scleros Posts: 2,165, Reputation: 262
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    #10

    Apr 15, 2008, 04:14 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by JudyKayTee
    And insurance companies. Good to spread it around.
    I don't TRUST insurance companies, but we're getting off topic. Jab at me privately if need be.;)
    Dr D's Avatar
    Dr D Posts: 698, Reputation: 127
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    #11

    Apr 15, 2008, 05:21 PM
    There are too many idiots out there who try to get their 15 minutes of fame by initiating a high speed police pursuit. By their actions, they put innocent lives at risk. My solution is to put all the criminals on notice that they will be taken out with extreme prejudice if they continue to flee a police pursuit. A well placed shot from a police helicopter should be able to kill the felon at such a point where his auto would do the least damage when it is unguided.

    This may seem harsh at first, but once the word got out there would be a marked decrease in felony flight. I would rather take my chances with an out of control vehicle (because the driver is dead), than with a dirt bag who might kill a loved one or a friend. The downside is that it would reduce the ratings of car chase shows.
    JimGunther's Avatar
    JimGunther Posts: 436, Reputation: 38
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    #12

    Apr 15, 2008, 09:10 PM
    My basis for saying that many, many people feel that the police should have some liability for the accident caused by another driver who won't obey the law to pull over is the many, many articles, TV shows, lawsuits, and the comments I have seen on the subject and also as a result of doing an Internet search for "high speed chases."

    The notion that the flashing lights on a police car "push" a driver down the road is to me just about as idiotic as saying that the presence of a stop sign causes people to run it. It takes a foot pressing hard on a gas petal to flee and elude, not flashing lights.

    We as a society are not hard enough on the mindless thugs who do this kind of thing. In addition to a long jail term, it is obvious to me that states should pass unlimited liability laws in fleeing and eluding cases so as to make the wrongdoer pay for all the results of their wrongdoing. Permanent revocation of driving privileges and denial of license plates to such persons seem appropriate. Or perhaps the states could issue mandatory bright orange licenses plates with words like "hazardous driver" on them for persons who commit serious offenses on the highway so that others can be warned about what they are facing next to them. What we are doing now to stop these thugs is obviously not working.

    Many people make comments like, "Why did he chase the guy for just having a burned-out tail lite?" People forget that fleeing and eluding is itself an extremely dangerous offense and it is only common sense that the more serious an offense is, the more effort should be put into catching the person who decides to do such a horrible thing. Placing limits on people who are professionally trained to deal with such situations just makes it easier for the wrongdoer to get away with this stuff, placing society at even more danger than a case of fleeing and eluding might cause.

    The statement "police put a high value on arbitrary law" is one of the most mindless statements I have heard on the subject. I first became a police officer at the age of 18 and have worn a badge of one kind or another most of my adult life. I can guarantee you that the highest value police have, and the greatest pleasure of the job, is bringing down the sanctions of the criminal justice system on the heads of people who do horrible things to others. People who flee and elude fall squarely into this category.
    Scleros's Avatar
    Scleros Posts: 2,165, Reputation: 262
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    #13

    Apr 16, 2008, 01:09 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by JimGunther
    I can guarantee you that the highest value police have, and the greatest pleasure of the job, is bringing down the sanctions of the criminal justice system on the heads of people who do horrible things...
    Yes, that's the control and domination aspect I mentioned. I think your original post was motivated by a need to understand and comprehend the mentality of a large number of people that do not view you as you view yourself, nor value what you value. You now have this mindless person's perspective. Perhaps more will follow.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,503, Reputation: 4600
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    #14

    Apr 16, 2008, 06:10 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Scleros
    I don't TRUST insurance companies, but we're getting off topic. Jab at me privately if need be.;)

    That wasn't a jab - that was a comment. Sorry if you took it as a jab. All I know about you is what you've posted... and that is what you posted.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,503, Reputation: 4600
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    #15

    Apr 16, 2008, 06:15 AM
    [QUOTE=JimGunther]The notion that the flashing lights on a police car "push" a driver down the road is to me just about as idiotic as saying that the presence of a stop sign causes people to run it. It takes a foot pressing hard on a gas petal to flee and elude, not flashing lights.


    Cut out what I'm not addressing but didn't change the above -

    I happen to agree with you but... I think this concept is flawed.

    I don't think your argument that flashing lights on a police car push a driver to speed and the presence of a stop sign causes people to run it.

    People run stop signs for whatever reason - they're in a hurry, they didn't see it, whatever. No agenda, other than stupidity or negligence.

    People who speed away from the Police are looking to NOT get arrested. They have an agenda.
    JimGunther's Avatar
    JimGunther Posts: 436, Reputation: 38
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    #16

    Apr 19, 2008, 02:10 PM
    JudyKatTree I think you are abit confused about what I am trying to say. I said that the notion that flashing lights on a police car push a person down the road is idiotic, that means I don't agree with that notion. If you say that people who flee pursuing police cars have an "agenda", then the same can be said of people who run stop signs-they are trying to get where they are going in a hurry.

    Whether they have an agenda or not, the point is that a traffic control device, no matter what it is, does not cause people to violate it. The person has to decide to do that on their own.

    To really understand the horror created by a person who chooses to flee and elude, you should watch some of those police chase shows as opposed to dramas where fake police try to catch fake crooks under fake circumstance. These people, as a general rule, endanger more lives and have the potential to cause more harm than occurs in most armed robberies. That's why we need to do everything we can to put them behind bars as soon as possible.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,503, Reputation: 4600
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    #17

    Apr 19, 2008, 02:22 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by JimGunther
    JudyKatTree I think you are abit confused about what I am trying to say. I said that the notion that flashing lights on a police car push a person down the road is idiotic, that means I don't agree with that notion. If you say that people who flee pursuing police cars have an "agenda", then the same can be said of people who run stop signs-they are trying to get where they are going in a hurry.

    Whether they have an agenda or not, the point is that a traffic control device, no matter what it is, does not cause people to violate it. The person has to decide to do that on their own.

    To really understand the horror created by a person who chooses to flee and elude, you should watch some of those police chase shows as opposed to dramas where fake police try to catch fake crooks under fake circumstance. These people, as a general rule, endanger more lives and have the potential to cause more harm than occurs in most armed robberies. That's why we need to do everything we can to put them behind bars as soon as possible.

    No, I don't think I'm confused - I think there's a difference between seeing flashing lights and speeding away to avoid being arrested and running a stop sign simply because you can. I guess we'll never agree on that.

    Of course a traffic control device doesn't cause people to violate it. In fact - what? But do flashing lights behind you cause "you" (if you have a problem with the Police) to speed away? Yes, I think they do. As I said, I guess we can't agree on that.

    I understand the "horror created by a person who chooses to flee and elude." I don't get my info from Police reality shows - I'm an accident investigator and I've been there live and in person to see the carnage.

    Question the statistics "as a general rule" that speeding drivers endanger more lives (and have the potential to cause more harm) than people involved in "most" armed robberies. I believe you said you're a Police Officer so you very well have info which I do not have.

    Sounds like an opinion, not fact.
    JimGunther's Avatar
    JimGunther Posts: 436, Reputation: 38
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    #18

    Apr 19, 2008, 02:25 PM
    "Yes, that's the control and domination aspect I mentioned. I think your original post was motivated by a need to understand and comprehend the mentality of a large number of people that do not view you as you view yourself, nor value what you value. You now have this mindless person's perspective. Perhaps more will follow."

    Is "control and dominanation" really the overiding concept you see here? Isn't it obvious to you that a person who causes legal harm or injury to another should pay for it? Don't get me wrong, as you mentioned previously, there are people drawn to careers like law the enforcement profession who like to control and dominate. I have seen many of these people down through the years and they can cause a lot of problems for themselves and others as they deal with members of our society.

    Laws in this country are not arbitrary, they represent what people who make laws feel is best for whatever reason, some of them selfish, some with good intentions, some without. I studied the Constitution a great deal in college and "arbitrary and capricous" laws are prohibited.

    No, I'm not asking the question so as to determine anything about how others view me or how I view myself. Its an abstract concept that really has nothing to do with me personally. The basic question I am asking is a simple one: As a general rule, if a car causes an accident, another car following them who does not collide with anything does not share responsibility for an accident. Why do so many people feel that the fact that the car following is a police car should cause the following car to share liability? It's that simple.
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,503, Reputation: 4600
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    #19

    Apr 19, 2008, 02:34 PM
    [QUOTE=JimGunther

    No, I'm not asking the question so as to determine anything about how others view me or how I view myself. Its an abstract concept that really has nothing to do with me personally. The basic question I am asking is a simple one: As a general rule, if a car causes an accident, another car following them who does not collide with anything does not share responsibility for an accident. Why do so many people feel that the fact that the car following is a police car should cause the following car to share liability? Its that simple.[/QUOTE]


    I cannot address wherever you are located but you are dead wrong in NYS - if a car causes an accident and is being chased by another car - for whatever reason - that second driver has a very good chance of being found partly responsible for the accident. Happens all the time, lawsuits all over the place. It's comparable negligence and the "blame" will be percentaged out.

    If a person on a bicycle veers into traffic, car swerves to avoid and strikes another car - bicyclist will be found partially responsible; same with a dog that darts into traffic - owner is partially responsible.

    I spend a great deal of time looking for "phantom" drivers who may or may not have caused the accident - or who may be made up on the spot!

    I did read back and see that you have been a Police Officer since age 19 (I believe) but you get your information from "the many, many articles, TV shows, lawsuits, and the comments I have seen on the subject and also as a result of doing an Internet search for "high speed chases." Don't you have personal experience both in enforcement and testifying at tickets and lawsuits?
    JimGunther's Avatar
    JimGunther Posts: 436, Reputation: 38
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    #20

    Apr 19, 2008, 02:40 PM
    JudyKayTree you must have been on line when I posted that last answer, I was going to go back and edit a few things but you had already answered. Don't get me wrong, I didn't say there was no difference between running a stop sign and fleeing an eluding. What I was trying to say was that flashing lights do not have the power to push a gas pedal down. A conscious decision has to be made to do this. After I was a police officer, I also served as a court bailiff and saw many cases of this type. I heard a few people try to follow that line of "reasoning" and it was never accepted as a defense in court.

    Yes. I understand that there are times when a non-striking vehicle can share liability. That's why I used the term "as a general rule." I also understand that in some places, police who are chasing fleeing and eluding drivers fall into this category. That's why I feel we need absolute liability laws for people who choose to do this. Police are "chasing" for a legitimate reason-to get the dangerous driver off the road. They are trained to do so. If they are not, they should not be engaged in a chase. The problem is not that police are trying to get them off the road, but that the fleeing driver chose to engage in fleeing and eluding in the first place. And since they caused the problem, they should be made to pay for all the damage that results, execpt, as the Supreme Court stated, police engage in something like "gross negligence". It seems simple enough to me.

    The problem with being an accident investigator is that you only see the accident after it happened. You do not see the horror in the faces of the people who have to take evasive action (if they can) to avoid these thugs. When a bank robber goes into a bank, he only threatens the lives of a few people, let's say 20 as a max (many bank robbers don't like to enter a busy bank). If he shoots, the kinetic energy of the bullets he fires is much, much less than a car flying down the road in a chase. A person who flees and alludes can endanger the lives of a lot of people very quickly. And some chases can last for an hour or more! It's a fact, not an opinion.

    Yes, I have personal experience in the area I am discussing. I was specifically asked why I felt many people felt police should share some liability in fleeing and alluding cases, and the sources I mentioned are the basis for the statements I made. As a police officer I didn't have much time to get involed in discussions of this type. I first became a police officer when I was 18-in the Air Force.

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