What to do about a high speed chase that caused damage to my property?

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What to do about a high speed chase that caused damage to my property?

The suspect was arrested for attempting to elude. He has a suspended license and no license tabs. I’m going to assume until I get the report that he has no insurance either. We received a letter regarding restitution from the county when they prosecute. Do I have to testify? I would rather keep it off our homeowners, as it was mainly rock, fence and planting damage. Can we sue the city that was chasing him at excess of 100 mph. He was “suspected of DUI ” but was not charged, so I guess he passed the sobriety when they finally caught him hours later.

Asked on February 20, 2011 under Accident Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You probably *can't* sue the city or the police department, since police are generally not liable for collateral damage from their legitimate activities--such as chasing someone driving at 100 mph!--absent very "damning" circumstances of recklessness or inappropriate behavior. While you can consult with a torts attorney on the subject, it's unlikely those exist; almost always, the police and municipalities cannot be sued over the consequences of chases.

You would certainly have grounds to sue the driver being chased if he ran into or caused damage to your property. Trying to elude the police and driving at that speed would not merely be negligent, it would be reckless as well. If he has assets or income, this may be worthwhile.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Ok so restitution should be set for him to repay you as part of his sentence or as a condition of probation. Since you were the ones damaged you got the letter.  You may have to come and show the damage.  It will be up to the Prosecutor if you need to testify.  But are you really going to take a chance that restitution is your only hope of payment to fix the damage? I would make the report and then decide how you wish to proceed. As for suing the county, I do not believe that that will be an option for you.  Speak with your insurance agent on reporting the claim.  Good luck to you. 


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