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$717,000 Award to Motorist Injured in High Speed Police Chase

An Alabama jury awarded $717,217 to a motorist injured when a vehicle involved in a high speed chase with police crashed into him.

On May 5, 2005, a Birmingham Police Officer began pursuit of Brandon Bearden, who was driving recklessly and running red lights in a 2008 Ford Explorer. When the officer lost sight of Bearden, he discontinued pursuit and advised the police dispatcher, who called all officers to be on the lookout for the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Officer Vonric Slaughter spotted the vehicle driving erratically. After confirming the description, Slaughter gave chase with lights and siren.

Bearden continued to run red lights, weave in and out of traffic and reached speeds of 70 to 90 MPH. Slaughter maintained continued contact with his supervisor, who felt the situation was becoming too dangerous for citizens. He ordered Slaughter to discontinue pursuit.

There is no dispute that Bearden crashed head on with Charbel Nadar, who spent 41 days in the hospital and underwent several surgeries to his leg and abdomen. His medical expenses were $358, 424. Nader sued Bearden, Slaughter, the City of Birmingham, his insurance company, and the owner of the SUV. He received $50,000 from the vehicle’s owner and Bearden, and $40,000 from the insurance company.

Thus, the matter proceeded to trial against the City and Slaughter. The defendants maintained at trial that Slaughter had discontinued pursuit and was not present when the accident occurred. Nader, however, presented evidence that Slaughter continued the pursuit without lights and siren. Recordings of the police radio deomstrated he was on the scene and witnessed the accident. Several eyewitnesses testified to Slaughter’s presence at the moment of the crash.

The jury entered a verdict for Nader, awarding him damages of $717,217. The court entered judgment for that amount and costs. The reason Bearden was driving erratically was explained when police found a woman’s dead body in the back of the SUV. He was later convicted of murder and attempted murder. See: Nadar v. City of Birmingham, Ala. Cir. Ct., Jefferson Co., No. 05-5199.

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Related legal case

Nadar v. City of Birmingham

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