That a high-speed police chase takes the life of an uninvolved driver is not an uncommon headline. The evading driver reaches high speed and the chasing police officer is behind him. The police officer is trained to maintain control of a vehicle at high speed. Typically, the eluding driver is not. These chases often end when the eluding driver loses control of the vehicle and crashes. Too frequently, an uninvolved driver who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time is killed or injured.
One of these high-speed chases occurred primarily on I-81. A Virginia State Trooper stopped the defendant for speeding: driving 93 mph in a 70-mph zone. At this time the Trooper reminded the defendant of an outstanding warrant. The defendant raced away, chased by two Troopers.
The chase (filmed entirely by the Trooper’s dashcam) proceeded for some 13 miles on I-81 at speeds as high as 130 mph. During this time, the defendant drove around traffic in both right and left lanes and passed a number of drivers on the right shoulder of the highway, also at high speeds.
When the defendant exited I-81, he lost control of his vehicle and hit an embankment at the end of the exit. He then continued at 80 mph (in a 40-mph zone) for one mile. Upon entering a curve, the defendant lost control of his car on the right side, ten swerved to the left. He then crossed the center line and crashed into the decedent’s pickup truck.
The defendant pleaded guilty to felony murder, felony eluding, and reckless driving.
The decedent was a 56-year-old husband and father of two adult children and three grandchildren. He owned a logging business and had been logging for more than 25 years.
One insurance company made a low initial offer arguing that due to cardiac bypass surgery a year prior, his life expectancy was significantly shorter. In response, the decedent’s cardiologist wrote a letter to explain that after the surgery, the decedent’s risk of death was lower than a large percentage of the population who have serious untreated risk factors.
Plaintiff’s (decedent’s wife) attorney created a demand package with many interviews with family and friends. The demand included punitive damages.
One of the insurance companies requested mediation. The case settled after 5 hours in mediation for $1,050,000.
From time to time, a high-profile case of this sort will capture the attention of the public. Debate will focus on the merits and dangers of high-speed police chases. To date, no one has discovered a way to arrest these offenders without the chase. Unfortunately, a fleeing defendant is far less concerned about other drivers and their passengers than his/her flight. The tragedy is that the crash that ends the chase often results in the death or serious injury of another driver and/or passenger.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash related to a fleeing driver or in an auto accident through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your hurts and harms. When you need a trusted auto accident attorney with a strong combination of compassion and fierce representation of your case, call Altizer Law, P.C., in Roanoke, VA. We represent plaintiffs throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Bettina Altizer and her team know that when you are rebuilding your life, it’s about the money.