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Old September 22, 2014, 12:46 PM   #1
JimDandy
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How liable are you for other's actions?

I was discussing the October DC car chase/shooting and I started wondering about something...

Who is to blame for the injuries sustained by the officers or general public in a pursuit like this? One officer hit a barricade and had to be air lifted out. Can a fleeing suspect be charged with anything for that? How likely is that sort of thing to pan out, generally speaking? If an officer hits an un-involved bystander?

Is this getting into stuff like Depraved Indifference? If the reckless driving leading to the chase is already a felony, does that start brushing against that homicide during the commission of a felony stuff I've heard about, but have no knowledge about whether it's real or Hollywood?

Obviously this will vary from place to place, but in general, what sort of fallout is there from stuff like this?
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Old September 22, 2014, 01:15 PM   #2
dakota.potts
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In many cases (maybe even federal law, I don't know), if someone dies because you commit a felony, you are charged with murder. I also think anybody hurt could bring a successful civil suit against the perpetrator. That's the extent of my understanding
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Old September 22, 2014, 02:16 PM   #3
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A person who engages in felonious conduct that, as a result, causes the death of another person, can be charged with FELONY MURDER.

A suspect's actions that cause injury to others can be criminal based on state law... such as CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE.

EVERYONE involved in a situation can face CIVIL PENALTIES as a police chase is NOT a free pass for ANYONE to disregard public safety concerns.

When I pursue a suspect, I'm still held accountable for my actions... perhaps not in a CRIMINAL LAW manner, but certainly in a CIVIL LAW manner.
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Old September 22, 2014, 06:29 PM   #4
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDandy
I was discussing the October DC car chase/shooting and I started wondering about something...

Who is to blame for the injuries sustained by the officers or general public in a pursuit like this? One officer hit a barricade and had to be air lifted out. Can a fleeing suspect be charged with anything for that? How likely is that sort of thing to pan out, generally speaking? If an officer hits an un-involved bystander?...
One's liability for the acts of another is a huge topic, but it is also important to distinguish between liability for your own acts and true vicarious liability.

Let's consider the situation you described:
  1. The reckless driver is reasonable for the foreseeable damages caused by his reckless conduct. That could include injuries to anyone he directly injures as well as injuries suffered or caused by those engaged in foreseeable efforts to stop him. The fact that his recklessness was for the purposes of avoiding capture by law enforcement doesn't excuse or justify his conduct.

  2. LEOs engaged in the pursuit could be liable to someone they injure in the course of that pursuit, but only to the extent that they are found to have acted unreasonably or recklessly under the circumstances. In this thread we had an extensive discussion about law enforcement liability to bystanders, and the principles discussed there would be applicable in this situation.

  3. But in neither case, the reckless driver or the LEO, would we be talking about liability for injury caused by another. In each case we're talking about liability for foreseeable injuries caused by their respective conduct.

  4. But liability for the actions of another does exist, and it's referred to as "vicarious liability." There are circumstances under which you can be held financially liable for the wrongful acts of someone else, even though you did absolutely nothing and were, in fact, sitting at home watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory at the time.

    1. Vicarious liability most often arises from a principal-agent or an employment relationship. So if you own a small business and a guy you hired to work in the store negligently, while "acting in the course and scope of his employment, injures a customer you can be financially liable.

    2. So, for example, if the cop who injured the bystander were found to have been legally at fault, his employing agency will be financially on the hook.
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Last edited by Frank Ettin; September 23, 2014 at 01:32 PM. Reason: correct typo
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Old September 23, 2014, 01:08 PM   #5
JimDandy
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Thanks Frank, that was about what I was looking for.
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