Personal injury cases against law enforcement are notoriously difficult to prosecute, but it does not mean you should not pursue a case if you were wronged by law enforcement, causing harm to you or your property. There are three types of cases that might be seen involving law enforcement.
Police chases present a high-risk scenario since there is a high likelihood of a car crash involving innocent bystanders. When cases involving police chases are successful, it is because the officer acted with reckless disregard for those around them and pursuing a chase was unnecessary. For example, each jurisdiction has rules concerning when a police chase is appropriate and at what point the pursuit should be abandoned. Generally, chasing someone for a minor traffic violation creates a disproportionately high risk of injury relative to the offense. Additionally, police are not supposed to chase people through residential neighborhoods. If an officer enters into a chase or continues a chase beyond what is considered acceptable by the department, they may be liable for injuries that occur from the chase.
Excessive force issues are some of the more common cases filed against law enforcement. These cases are often notable due to videos from bystanders. To some extent, what is considered "excessive" can be subjective. However, law enforcement training has strict guidelines on how to arrest or otherwise subdue a person. Excessive force involves using force beyond what is necessary, which might include the use of lethal or less-lethal force when it is not warranted. If a person is detained, but officers continue to strike the person or use weapons on them, this is an example of excessive force. Generally, when an unarmed person is running away from law enforcement, the use of deadly force would be considered excessive. Many times excessive force cases are difficult to prove because there may not be a video of the incident.
Negligence by law enforcement can also warrant a case. One example of negligence is detaining someone and leaving them in a manner that leads to their death or injury. In one example, police parked their car on the train tracks and detained a woman. While the woman was in the back seat and handcuffed, a train approached. The car was eventually hit by the train. This is an example of a way law enforcement behaved in a negligent manner, thereby causing harm. Another example can be detaining a person in a manner that causes them to asphyxiate. Detaining a person and placing them face-down has a known risk of injury or death. If the person is left in this position and becomes seriously injured or dies, law enforcement acted in a neglectful manner.
Many people do not pursue valid cases against law enforcement because they believe they are unwinnable. Talking with a lawyer can give you a general idea whether the case should be pursued. For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer near you.