A report disclosed that the House passed a bill on Tuesday intended to protect law enforcement officers from being liable when the suspects they’re pursuing are injured or killed. The bill, Bill 64-10, will now go before the Senate.
House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden who sponsored HB20 was quoted saying, “If they choose to put themselves in danger, we don’t owe them a duty of care, and we can’t be held liable if they choose to kill themselves.” He added that this bill is a response to a Utah Supreme Court decision regarding a Cache County family’s wrongful death lawsuit which proceed against a Weber County sheriff’s deputy who was pursuing the family’s son when he died in a rollover crash. The report added a comment by House Majority Leader Brad Dee who stated that the Supreme Court decision calls for a change in the law.
According to the report, Dee said the bill would not remove the responsibility of a law enforcement officer engaged in pursuit to “respond adequately and within policy.” On the other hand, it was also reported that Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said he was troubled by the bill because it handled the issue raised by the court case “with a sledgehammer,” taking away any possibility that a law enforcement officer could be held liable for any injuries or harm that the criminal might incur.
In the report, Rep. Richard Greenwood, a retired Utah Highway Patrolmen, said he was involved in nearly 100 chases. Rep. Greenwood said the court ruling has had a chilling effect on law enforcement. He made mention that, after the ruling, he heard officers say they will never chase another vehicle again and if someone decides to run, they would just go the other way.
Christensen & Hymas believes that the safety of everyone on the road depends on every drivers’ commitment to safe driving and their adherence to traffic rules and laws. High speed chases normally result from traffic violations such as drunk driving, impaired driving, possession of illegal materials, lapsed driver licenses, and other things that the driver would not want to receive a ticket for. Unfortunately, these high speed pursuits also endanger other motorists who could be traveling the same route.
If you have been injured because of someone’s negligence and reckless driving behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Christensen & Hymas at (801)-506-0800 for your concerns regarding personal injury claims.
Original article by Lisa Riley Roche of Deseret News
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