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Kansas City driver charged for fatality during police pursuit

There was a time, before the Kansas Tort Claims Act, when the state was immune from all civil actions. Today, the state government can be liable for negligence in select circumstances. Section 75: 61-64 of the statute also limits the damage amounts plaintiffs can collect in liability lawsuits and exceptions to the state statute.

Two people were killed in Kansas police pursuits during the last two months. The latest victim, the mother of a television reporter, died after her vehicle was struck by a fleeing driver in Kansas City, Kansas. City police were after the man who caused the fatal car wreck for multiple traffic infractions.

Authorities said a 28-year-old male driver sped away from police, despite officers' orders to pull over. Investigators think the driver broadsided the victim's Chevrolet Cobalt, after running a stop sign. The 62-year-old victim was pronounced dead from accident injuries after she was transported to a hospital.

The man police sought apparently tried to flee the crash scene on foot. His escape was short-lived. The Kansas City Star later reported the defendant was charged with first-degree murder for the fatality.

The circumstances were eerily similar an Independence police chase in January, when a suspect trying to elude police blew through a red light. The driver struck another car, killing a 35-year-old man. Authorities would not share the police department's policy on pursuits when a reporter questioned how officers handled police chases.

A 1990 U.S. Department of Justice report encouraged police agencies to develop pursuit policies to avoid liability and public injuries. Since then, some agencies agreed to abandon high-speed pursuits when there was a risk of endangering the public. Other policies base the need for pursuits on the seriousness of potential charges against a fleeing suspect.

Legal options for liability cases against the state or local governments can be explored with an accident attorney familiar with complex sovereign immunity laws.

Source: KSHB Kansas City, "Woman killed by car fleeing from police in Kansas City, Kan." 41 Action News Staff, Feb. 18, 2014

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