Part of learning to drive involves learning the protocols involved in yielding the right-of-way to emergency responders. A driver is required to leave a clear path for an emergency vehicle, and the emergency driver has safety protocols to adhere to as well.
Sometimes, a carefree driver becomes involved in a crash that creates a second emergency response scene. So, what happens when a driver is in the midst of a car accident with an ambulance, a fire truck, or a police cruiser?
How Does the Involvement of an Emergency Vehicle Complicate an Accident?
There are a few factors that make accidents with emergency vehicles more complicated than typical car accidents.
Emergency vehicle drivers are allowed to break some driving rules while responding to emergencies. Also, many states have rules protecting emergency drivers from accident liability.
What Driving Rules are Different for Emergency Vehicle Drivers?
Accidents between two civilian drivers are often less complicated than accidents involving emergency vehicles because the driving rules for individual drivers are commonly understood by everyone involved. However, emergency drivers are allowed to break some of those rules when responding to emergency calls.
Police, firefighters, and EMTs who are en route to the scene of an emergency are permitted to break some fundamental driving laws that other drivers cannot. Since time is of the essence in an emergency, these drivers are allowed to break speed limits, drive on the shoulder of the road, and drive through red lights. These behaviors have the potential to cause an accident, but the special circumstances involved in emergency response makes them necessary and lawful in most cases.
When is an Emergency Vehicle Driver Liable for an Accident?
The driver of an emergency vehicle still has a duty to exercise caution while driving. They must engage lights and sirens to indicate that they are responding to emergency calls.
Emergency drivers must attempt to make nearby drivers aware of their intentions to pass other cars or proceed through red lights. They are not allowed to blow through stop signs or red lights without regard for other vehicles on the road. Such disregard may be considered negligent.
What are the Rules for Other Drivers When Emergency Vehicles are Present?
If an emergency vehicle is responding to a call, meaning their lights and sirens are engaged, drivers in the vicinity are obligated to yield to the emergency vehicle and allow it to pass.
Why Do Drivers of Emergency Vehicles Have Special Rules and Protections?
It can seem unfair that drivers of emergency vehicles are allowed to break driving-related laws and that they are protected from liability if accidents result. However, in many cases, emergency vehicles are government property, and the drivers are often government employees.
When these drivers are in the process of performing their emergency job duties, they are providing a public service. Many states provide protections from liability for emergency vehicle drivers in order to protect the public from the costs of lawsuits.
Can I Pursue a Personal Injury Lawsuit After an Accident with an Emergency Vehicle?
There are cases in which emergency drivers may be found liable. Emergency vehicles may have special permissions to sidestep driving rules, but they do not have the right to drive recklessly, even if they are responding to an emergency. If they do, they can be found liable for any resulting accident. If an accident happens, it is important to speak to a lawyer right away.
Atlantic City Personal Injury Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Represent Clients Hurt in Accidents with Emergency Vehicles
If you were injured in a crashed that was caused by an emergency vehicle, you should speak to one of our skilled Atlantic City personal injury lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm. Despite the special permissions and protections granted to the drivers of emergency vehicles, we can help you prove liability and protect your rights to seek damages for the injuries you suffered in the crash. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 609-926-3300. Located in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, and Woodbury.