Friday, May 1, 2015

Emergency Vehicle Accident Injuries

To avoid emergency vehicle accidents, Florida Law requires drivers to yield to responding emergency vehicles approaching an intersection. It also requires drivers to pull over and stop for approaching emergency vehicles in either direction with visual and audible warnings in use. The law is also malleable when it comes to drivers of emergency vehicles obeying traffic lights and signs. However, the drivers responding to emergencies are required to use reasonable caution to assure they arrive safely where their help is needed and do not cause harm to other drivers and pedestrians.  

Hundreds of people are killed or injured each year by police cars, fire engines and ambulances responding to an emergency. If the emergency vehicle is using its lights and siren and collides with another vehicle, or strikes a pedestrian, is the emergency vehicle accident ever the fault of the driver responding? It may be, depending upon several factors. Even though an emergency vehicle has the right of way when responding to an emergency, caution is required. The driver must not assume that his vehicle is seen clearly entering an intersection or approaching from behind. He should assume the contrary. With the increase of distracted drivers and pedestrians on today’s roads, coupled with increased traffic congestion creating noise and obstructing visibility, there is a very good chance that a driver, or pedestrian, is not aware of the vehicles location. Safety should be the highest priority in operating an emergency vehicle. Not only is the safety of the public the concern, but those riding in, or on, the vehicle.

In Sarasota, Florida a total of 15 people were injured in two separate crashes involving ambulances on the same night in January of this year, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune. At least in one case the crash was the fault of the ambulance driver who plowed into the back of a car stopped at a red light after failing to change lanes. There are many situations that can place the fault with the driver of an emergency vehicle:

  • Excessive speed – A driver operating a vehicle at an excessive speed does not have complete control of the vehicle, as was apparently the case in the Sarasota crash. Other drivers and pedestrians do not have sufficient time to react to allow the emergency vehicle the right of way.
  • Failure to use lights and sirens where required.
  •  A high speed chase that should have been cut off - Police should discontinue a high speed chase if it poses a danger to the public greater than that of fleeing suspect.
  • Emergency personnel responding in their personal vehicles – EMS and firefighters often use excessive speed and break laws to get to their headquarters with vehicles that are improperly fitted with warning signals.
  • Reckless driving – Taking a turn or proceeding though an intersection with little or no regard to the safety of others.

Anyone injured in an accident involving an emergency vehicle has the right to sue to recover medical expenses and for pain and suffering. In many case it is the governmental agency that is the subject of the suit. There are great complexities in cases involving a city, county or state. To navigate through this legal maze an experienced emergency vehicle accident lawyer is required. This attorney will know the traps and pitfalls that are laid out to discourage litigation and deter large settlements.

Dolman Law has attorneys who know the paths that lead to victory in cases involving injuries or death due to improperly operated emergency vehicles. If you or a loved one suffered due to the irresponsible actions of an emergency vehicle driver, reach out to us today by phone or through this website. You need a skilled law firm in your corner to help you. That law firm is Dolman Law. Call for a free evaluation of your case today.  

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

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