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Innocent people can be injured in car accidents in police chases

Police pursuits are a risky and potentially dangerous part of police work. Law enforcement agencies in New Jersey are required to follow certain procedures and protocols when making the determination to initiate and/or maintain a pursuit. One of the factors taken into consideration is the risk that innocent people will be involved in car accidents with either the fleeing vehicle or police cruisers.

Three officers in two separate patrol cars in Newark were pursuing a gold sedan recently. During the chase, the suspect vehicle crashed into another vehicle and a woman who was out walking her dog. The driver of the gold sedan only suffered minor injuries in the crash.

The two occupants of the vehicle suffered injuries, but reports only say they were not life threatening. No indication of the severity of the pedestrian's injuries was given. Furthermore, no details regarding the chase, including what crime the driver is suspected of committing, were provided.

This could be, at least in part, because the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Professional Standards Bureau has initiated an investigation into the pursuit. The patrol cars involved in the chase were impounded as part of that investigation. The three officers are still on active duty, but that could change depending on the Bureau's findings.

The evidence gathered in that investigation may also be relevant to any personal injury claims that may be filed by the injured victims. Even if the officers are cleared of any criminal wrongdoing regarding the chase, they may still face liability claims, along with the city of Newark, in a civil court action. Proving negligence to a civil court could result in the entry of a monetary judgment that could help with the damages incurred by the victims, which would most likely be similar to those awarded in other car accidents.

Source: nj.com, "Woman walking dog struck during Newark cop chase, authorities say", Vernal Coleman, Aug. 27, 2015

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