Police pursuits have been controversial for more than 50 years, and sadly, there's still significant cause for concern. According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), approximately 250,000 police chases occur each year nationwide. Between 6,000 and 8,000 of these law enforcement pursuits lead to crashes, resulting in roughly 500 deaths and nearly 5,000 injuries annually.
Far too often, the victims injured or killed in these collisions aren't even the people the police were chasing—they're innocent civilians who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was the case with our client, a woman in her early 60s who was hurt as the Omaha Police Department pursued a suspect.
Cases Against Nebraska Government Agencies Entail Unique Challenges, Making Highly Skilled Legal Counsel Essential
Though Nebraska law establishes strict liability in cases where a police chase harms an innocent third party, recovering fair damages can be challenging. Bringing a lawsuit against a government agency is very different from suing a private party. Government cases have their own set of strict deadlines, requirements, and procedures.
Fortunately, at the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop, our Nebraska personal injury lawyer has the knowledge, experience, skill, and resources to resolve even the most complex cases. Here's how we helped our client.
The Accident and Injuries
An enjoyable mother-daughter outing ended with the need for medical attention when a suspect pursued by police collided with civilians, leaving our client with long-term injuries. This incident occurred while our client and her adult daughter were on their way home from a college basketball game. As they waited at a red light, unaware, a police chase sped toward them. When the fleeing driver lost control, he crashed into three vehicles at the stop light, including our client's.
Our client had a history of neck and back pain and had undergone extensive treatment with a pain management specialist to stabilize those conditions. In addition to causing new hip pain and arm numbness, the police chase collision aggravated her previously stable neck and back issues, resulting in a severe pain flare that set her back to square one and forced her to restart her treatment. Her doctor treated her for about a year before the pain from the injuries began to settle, and while the hip pain and arm numbness eventually subsided and the flared pain improved, she never fully recovered. She now lives with chronic aggravation of neck and lower back problems due to the police chase crash.
Nebraska Revised Statute 13-911 establishes strict liability for injuries innocent third parties suffer during law enforcement vehicular pursuits. That means we weren't required to prove that the Omaha Police Department was negligent to recover compensation from the city.
However, litigating against the City of Omaha is anything but a walk in the park. It entails filing a notice with the city and police department that includes a complete description of the claim—and doing so within a very short timeframe—and an array of other procedural requirements. Just filing the claim is a procedural minefield that can leave injured victims with no legal remedy. Having a seasoned lawyer who precisely follows these steps is vital and can be the difference between obtaining fair damages and watching the police department slip through the cracks and evade accountability.
Of course, meticulous litigation is nothing new for the accomplished team at the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop. We filed the notices, did the paperwork, met the deadlines, and gave the city the opportunity to review and resolve our client's claim without legal action. After that, we started dealing with their lawyers.
We convinced the city to settle with our client for $42,500, but we didn't stop there. We also:
- Negotiated with medical providers to lower her medical bills
- Talked Medicare into reducing their lien
- Got our client's insurance company to waive repayment for the medical coverage they provided
- Worked with her insurer to cover the cost of her totaled vehicle—around $20,000—and waive reimbursement from our client
While no settlement can undo our client's pain, our efforts helped her regain her financial footing and get the treatment she needed to begin the healing process.
Matt Lathrop Can Help You Fight for the Justice and Compensation You Deserve
If you or a loved one were innocent third parties injured in a police chase, you may be entitled to compensation. The Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop's exceptional legal team can help you understand your rights, explore options for recovery, and adeptly navigate the inherent complexities of litigating against a Nebraska government agency.Contact our Omaha law office today to request a free, no-obligation initial consultation, and we'll be in touch soon to discuss your case.