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Wichita, Kansas officer faces two claims for crash liability

A Kansas police officer was involved in three on-duty traffic accidents in less than one year. The officer and the city of Wichita are now defendants in lawsuits for the wrongful death of a child and severe injuries suffered by an innocent driver caught in a police chase.

The first auto accident occurred in Sept. 2011 while the patrol car's siren and flashing lights were engaged. Five months later, the same officer was apparently responding to a burglary call without the lights and siren when he struck a 12-year-old girl. The child died.

In June 2012, the overnight patrolman was the lead officer in the high-speed pursuit of a suspected car thief. The suspect bolted through a red light at a minimum of 65 mph and crashed into car exiting Interstate 135.

The motorist involved in the chase suffered head trauma, multiple fractures and a series of internal injuries. The 23-year-old victim remains in recovery almost a year after the car wreck.

The parents of the girl who died filed a civil claim in December. The complaint alleged the officer was speeding and violating police protocol by not using the car's emergency warning system. Accident investigators backed Wichita officials who said the officer did nothing out of line with police policies.

The injury victim's lawsuit was submitted earlier this month. The personal injury claim also accuses the officer of unwarranted speeding. Court papers said the police pursuit for a non-violent, non-threatening suspect created unnecessary public danger.

State laws often provide immunity from accident liability for some government agencies and employees. In some jurisdictions, damage caps limit the compensation accident victims or surviving relatives can receive. Many cases are resolved through settlements rather than jury trials.

Victims and grieving family members often don't consider legal options immediately following an auto accident. A liability attorney's early advice allows plaintiffs to recover rightful damages as quickly as possible.

Source:  kansas.com, "Second lawsuit filed against city alleging Wichita police officer negligence in driving pursuit" Tim Potter, May. 08, 2013

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