Every police officer knows that the job comes with responsibilities and risks — that’s simply part of the deal. It’s no secret that policemen and women put their lives on the line when they go to work because any situation could escalate to put an officer in bodily harm. Recent news stories have noted a number of lost officers across the country, including one within the Colorado law enforcement department.
The tragedy in June involved a young cadet who was conducting a traffic stop when he was hit by a speeding car. The driver of the other vehicle was fleeing from the police in an unrelated chase. The motorist attempted to swerve around spike strips that were set up across the road, and ultimately, the driver struck and killed the 21-year-old cadet. After his death, the officer was promoted to the trooper for his heroic behavior in the line of duty.
Police chases are often high speed, high-risk endeavors on the part of the officers involved who have to balance cautious driving with extreme skill and speed to catch fleeing suspects. Pursuit crashes and collisions are a huge problem across the country, and nearly a third of all police chases end in accidents. In most cases, police officers are the victims, but sometimes innocent bystanders, drivers, pedestrians and outside parties are injured or killed.
High Price to Pay
Because police chases pose such a serious threat to everyone involved, some departments have been banned from engaging in them. In those departments that allow chases, police are only permitted to pursue a subject for felonies. However, an officer may have the responsibility to end a chase when the suspect has been identified. The risks of continuing a chase may be greater than the reward of catching a suspect immediately.
Police officers often forget about the risk to themselves in the heat of a chase as well. It’s not just the dangers to the drivers and pedestrians they encounter along the way; it’s also the risk that they may crash or that the suspect may heighten the dangers of the chase by speeding up, driving through crowded streets or taking sharp curves and dangerous roads.
Or, as in the case of the Colorado cadet, an officer may have been involved in a completely different incident and suffer the consequences of a risky pursuit.
An officer who is injured or killed in the line of duty may have some recourse for financial compensation or restitution, depending on the circumstances in which the injury was sustained.
For more information regarding workers’ compensation claims and on-the-job injuries, especially in risky or challenging careers, contact a Denver workers compensation attorney at Levine Law today. We represent individuals in need of legal guidance or advice.