On October 31, 2013, a 31-year old man died after losing control of the stolen motorcycle that he was riding during a police chase. According to the Tampa Tribune, the man was traveling at high speed when he lost control of the motorcycle and hit a parked car.
While in this case the rider of the stolen bike was the only fatality, cases like this highlight who holds legal responsibility in cases where someone is driving a stolen car or other motor vehicle, especially in cases where there is police involvement, as in the police chase in this case.
If someone is severely injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident that involves a stolen vehicle, finding a party to hold legally responsible can be extremely difficult. This is one reason why it is so important to carry uninsured motorist coverage. It is well settled that the owners of a stolen vehicles are not responsible for accidents that are caused by the person that stole that vehicle. This would mean that an accident victim in an accident involving the stolen vehicle would not be able to claim pain and suffering damages or other damages against the insurance of the car’s owner, only their own insurance if they carry uninsured motorist coverage.
Essentially this means that only the driver of the stolen vehicle would be legally responsible for the injuries sustained by the innocent party in the accident. The problem with this is that without insurance coverage, a victim would be relying on the assets and income of a car thief to collect a judgment. Most likely there would be nothing to collect from that person as they most likely don’t have anything to collect. The driver of a stolen vehicle would most likely be incarcerated or otherwise have limits on their income and also are likely to have little to no assets. Additionally, no insurance would cover a driver of a stolen car, so even the state minimums would not be available.
However, in the instance of this accident, there was police involvement. This could potentially create another source for collecting a judgment if the police somehow acted negligently in the chasing of the stolen car. There have been suits nationwide against local police departments for their involvement in high-speed chases where it is clear that the safe option for the public was to let the driver they are chasing go, either because of the high-speed nature of the chase or other factors such as poor driving conditions. The policies of police departments as to what officers should do are coming under scrutiny when innocent parties are injured as a result of such chases. However, whenever a government entity is involved in any sort of accident, there are special rules in place as to notice and filing lawsuits that could limit how a victim can collect.
If you or a family member was injured or a family member was killed as a result of an accident caused by a stolen vehicle, it is essential that you contact an attorney as soon as you can. Not only can witnesses or responsible parties disappear, but there could be deadline that has to be met. Call the Brooks Law Group at 1-888-WE-MEAN-IT today and schedule your free consultation.