Verdict - Summer 2015 - (Page 18)

> FEATURE STORY High-Speed Police Injured Innocent By A Cause of Action is Still Viable and Important unde BY RICHARD W. HENDRIX & NICOLE A. ARCHAMBAULT S tatistics prove that a police procedure. Were it otherwise, these While some might think that a cause of large number of innocent policies and procedures would be worthless action under Georgia tort law may have been bystanders are injured and the public would have no protection. overruled by the United States Supreme Court case of Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 127 S. or killed each year during high-speed police TORT CAUSE OF ACTION Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007) and, more chases. Under the cur- The Georgia tort cause of action for a recently, Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134 S.Ct. 2012, rent, non-mandatory reporting guidelines, reckless police pursuit is codified in 188 L.Ed.2d 1056 (2014), this is not the case. statistics show that on average more than O.C.G.A. § 40-6-6(d)(2), which states in These cases are still viable in Georgia and one person dies each day as a result of police pertinent part that (emphasis supplied): they are still important in order to protect pursuits; one-third of those killed are inno- When a law enforcement officer in a law cent bystanders.1 This significant number enforcement vehicle is pursuing a fleeing should stress the fact that police chases suspect in another vehicle and the fleeing But, before an action can be filed against are a foreseeable part of police procedure suspect damages any property or injures or the state of Georgia or any of its counties or and should only be undertaken when nec- kills any person during the pursuit, the law municipalities for damages under O.C.G.A. § essary. However, statistics also show that enforcement officer's pursuit shall not be the 40-6-6(d)(2), notice is required to be served police pursuits for non-violent offenses, i.e. proximate cause or a contributing proximate upon that governmental entity of the potential traffic violations, make up the majority of cause of the damage, injury, or death caused claim, i.e. an ante litem notice. However, the police pursuits. While police pursuits are by the fleeing suspect unless the law enforce- time to serve and the required content in the allowed under the policies and procedures ment officer acted with reckless disregard ante litem notices differs among the state of of most law enforcement departments, there for proper law enforcement procedures in Georgia, and its counties and municipalities; are guidelines and procedures that must be the officer's decision to initiate or continue each are addressed in a different code section. followed if such pursuits are to be conducted the pursuit. Where such reckless disregard O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5 sets forth the require- as safely as possible. In Georgia, innocent exists, the pursuit may be found to constitute ments for ante litem notices to municipalities. bystanders, including passengers, may be a proximate cause of the damage, injury, or For example, within six months of the event able to hold police officers accountable for death caused by the fleeing suspect, but the happening, the claim must be presented in their damages if their injury or death was existence of such reckless disregard shall not writing to the municipality's governing author- caused by a reckless disregard of proper in and of itself establish causation. 3 ity and state "the time, place, and extent of 2 18 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association the rights of innocent citizens endangered by reckless high-speed police pursuits.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Summer 2015

President’s Message
GTLA President’s Gala
Trying a Sex Abuse Case Against a Local Church in a Conservative Venue
New Strategies and Interventions to Curtail Discovery Abuses
High-Speed Police Chases and Injured Innocent Bystanders
When One Award is Not Enough
Three Strategies to Fend off a Funding Attack
Recent Updates to Georgia Suggested Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil), July 2013 – Present
The Hidden Predator Act: How House Bill 17 Will Impact Victims’ Rights in Georgia
New Lawyers’ Corner: Trying a Low-Damage Jury Case
Professional Practice Pointers: Updates on E-filing, the Court of Appeals, and a New Traffic Division in DeKalb State
Case Updates: What’s New?
Workers’ Comp Updates
Notes: What’s New with GTLA Members
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Index to Advertisers

Verdict - Summer 2015