When emergency responders like police officers, firemen, and paramedics are responding to a 911 call, they need to arrive at the scene as quickly as possible. With their sirens blaring and their lights flashing, other vehicles get out of their way so that they can speed by and help those in need. Whether the emergency is a car accident, a house fire, or something else, emergency responders often speed, weave in and out of lanes, and drive through red lights in order to protect the health and safety of others. However, while emergency responders are legally allowed to break certain rules of the road when they are responding to a call, any time a vehicle is speeding, driving through red lights, or engaging in any other type of unsafe driving behavior, there is an increased risk of a serious accident.
Generally, emergency vehicles are owned by the government or used on behalf of a government agency, which makes the process of filing a personal injury claim much more complicated. In fact, in many states, emergency vehicles are immune from lawsuits if the accident occurred while the driver was responding to an emergency. This is known as the doctrine of sovereign immunity.
However, immunity will depend upon a number of factors, including the circumstances of the crash and whether the emergency responder was driving recklessly. For example, if an ambulance driver speeds through a red light without turning on the siren or the lights, this may be considered negligent behavior, in which case the driver may be held liable. Motorists are expected to change lanes or move to the side of the road when an emergency vehicle is approaching, particularly when the lights are flashing and the siren is turned on. If you do not allow an emergency vehicle to pass or you fail to yield to an emergency vehicle at an intersection, you will likely be held liable for a resulting accident.
What if I am in a Collision With a Police Car?
When police officers are responding to an emergency, there are many devices that they use to arrive at their destination quickly and safely, including GPS, police scanners, and laptops they use to communicate with dispatch. While these devices are extremely helpful, they can also cause a police officer to become distracted, particularly if they are checking the GPS or getting important information from the police scanner.
Even if a police officer causes a distracted driving accident, keep in mind that filing a personal injury lawsuit against a police officer can be a complicated and overwhelming process. In addition to the support that an officer will have from their fellow officers, it is common for police to have personal relationships with judges and other government officials.
While these cases can be more complex than accidents involving other civilians, a skilled lawyer can assist you with the claims process. It is crucial that you collect as much evidence from the accident scene as possible, including pictures of the damage to your vehicle, the position of the vehicles, your injuries, skid marks or debris on the road, and any other evidence that can help you prove negligence. If you suffered serious injuries, make sure that you collect copies of your medical records and witness testimonies from people who saw the accident.
What Do I Need to Know About Ambulance Accidents?
When an ambulance is speeding to an emergency, it usually means that someone is seriously injured and requires immediate medical attention. Unfortunately, if an ambulance hits your car, this can cause you to suffer very serious injuries, particularly if the ambulance driver struck your vehicle while traveling at a high speed. There are a number of important factors you should keep in mind if you are involved in an ambulance accident, including the following:
- Ambulance services are usually run by state or local government agencies, which means that you will be required to fill out a unique set of forms. In addition, there are shorter filing deadlines. If you miss the deadline, your claim will likely be denied.
- Ambulance patients have the same legal rights as the injured occupants of a passenger vehicle involved in an accident.
- If there is a medical lien against the ambulance accident settlement amount, you may have a difficult time collecting compensation.
When Is a Fire Truck Driver Liable for an Accident?
Accidents involving fire trucks often cause significant property damage and injuries due to the massive size of the vehicle. When a fire truck is rushing to put out a fire, drivers often reach speeds of up to 75 miles per hour if their route involves driving on a major highway. While this is allowed when the firefighter is responding to an emergency and motorists are expected to move out of the way, there are instances when a firefighter may be liable for an accident, including:
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Distracted driving.
- Drowsy driving.
- Failure to follow the general rules of the road.
- Reckless driving.
What Should I Do if I am Involved in an Accident With an Emergency Vehicle?
Accidents involving emergency vehicles can be much more complex than those involving two passenger vehicles. However, the steps you should take if you are involved in this type of accident are similar:
- Get medical attention. If you are injured, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention.
- Exchange information. If you are physically able to do so, exchange information with the driver of the emergency vehicle, including the driver’s license number, their badge or identification number, the vehicle’s identification number, and information about their employer.
- Collect evidence at the scene. You should also collect as much evidence from the scene of the accident, including pictures of the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and road conditions.
- Get witness statements. Obtain witness testimonies from people who are at the scene of the accident.
- Consult a lawyer. It is in your best interest to contact a highly skilled car accident lawyer who understands the unique challenges associated with these types of cases.
How Can I Avoid an Accident With an Emergency Vehicle?
You should take proactive steps to avoid a collision with an emergency vehicle, including the following:
- Always slow down, change lanes, or move to the side of the road when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Allow the vehicle to pass before returning to your lane. When pulling over to allow the emergency vehicle to pass, make sure that you are not cutting off another vehicle that is driving in the next lane. In addition, always check for cyclists and pedestrians before switching lanes or pulling to the side of the road.
- Us extreme caution when approaching a stopped vehicle. Slow down, move away from the vehicle, and carefully pass the vehicle before regaining speed.
- Turn your hazard lights on, and slowly pull over to the right when an emergency vehicle is approaching from the other direction.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Advocate for Clients Injured in Car Accidents Involving Emergency Vehicles
If you were seriously injured in an accident involving a police car, ambulance, fire truck, or any other emergency vehicle, you are urged to contact one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC at your earliest convenience. We will examine the details of the accident, determine whether negligence was involved, and assist you with every step of the claims process. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.