We often read about police chases that escalate and end up in accidents that cause serious injuries and even deaths.

What is less well known is the grim toll bystanders or people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time pay for these police pursuits.

An article in USA Today in 2015 revealed more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers lost their lives in police car chases from 1979 to 2013.

Accidents caused by police chases

Police chases kill thousands of bystanders

Other media outlets pointed out the death toll from police chases is considerably higher than that of floods and tornadoes in the United States.

While the death toll has hit four figures, the number of bystanders seriously injured has risen into tens of thousands.

Often these police chases occur at high speeds. There is little time for other motorists, pedestrians or cyclists to react to get out of the way.

The USA Today report suggested many of these chases occurred as officers pursued people wanted for minor traffic infractions.

Most bystanders were killed in their own vehicles by a fleeing driver. The report stated police officers across the country chase tens of thousands of people each year, often for traffic violations or other misdemeanors.

In some cases, the pursuit provides an impetus for the driver to speed away recklessly.

The USA Today report detailed how a 60-year-old federal worker lost his life near Washington, D.C., when he was hit by a driver who police chased because his headlights were off.

Recently in California, a grand jury said local agency rules relating to police chases should take into account the likelihood of a fatal collision and weigh it against the chances of catching a suspect.

The grand jury heard two-thirds of the 421 pursuits in Los Angeles County that occurred in the 12-month period beginning in October 2015 led to a suspect’s capture.  About 17 percent of pursuits resulted in a crash.

Recently, in New Jersey, a police chase left several cops injured and at least one other person seriously injured when a suspect’s car hit a telephone pole and burst into flames, authorities said.

If you or a family member has been hurt in a police chase you may be able to make an insurance claim against the insurance policy of the driver who was being chased or even sue the police department. Call the Law Offices of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.