It is probably something that we have all wondered or worried about at some point while driving: What happens if you get into an accident with an emergency response vehicle? Police cruisers or ambulances fly through the streets – even in downtown Philadelphia – with barely a pause at intersections. While they typically have their sirens going, there are times when it might be difficult to hear or see them. For example, if you are listening to loud music, when there are loud environmental noises around your car, or when you cannot locate the oncoming emergency response vehicle. Any one of these situations can result in an accident with an emergency response vehicle, and all of them involve you following all of the rules of the road.
Just because a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician is behind the wheel of a police cruiser, fire truck, or ambulance does not mean they get to do whatever they want. Emergency vehicles are given the right-of-way so they can get to the scene of an emergency quicker, but that does not make them above the law.
Emergency Response Vehicle Accidents - Who is Responsible?
Accidents between cars or pedestrians and emergency response vehicles are not unheard of. According to numbers by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA) and Emergency Medical Services, there were an average of 4,500 crashes involving an ambulance every year between 1992 and 2011.
While some of these accidents might have been the fault of the driver involved, not necessarily all of them are. The driver of the emergency vehicle is not always in the right if an accident happens. Instead, they are legally obligated to drive safely and with all of the due care required. If they do not follow through on this obligation, they might be driving negligently, which could make them ultimately responsible for the accident.
In fact, while emergency service providers like towns and hospitals are supposed to train police officers, firefighters, and EMTs to drive safely, they often skimp on this training to save money and get their workers on the road quicker. If the emergency responder's lack of training is what caused the crash, the town or hospital responsible for training them could be legally responsible for your injuries.
Injuries in Emergency Response Vehicle Accidents
Because of the size and weight of emergency vehicles, especially ambulances and fire trucks, as well as the speed they drive at, getting into an accident with one often leads to serious injuries. Most of the time, the person who gets hurt in an accident with an emergency response vehicle is someone in the car that the emergency vehicle hits.
In fact, out of the fatal accidents involving ambulances between 1992 and 2011, only 25% of those who died were in the ambulance at the time of the crash. The rest were either pedestrians or others who were not in a vehicle in the accident or were occupants of the vehicle that the ambulance collided with.
These collisions, even if not fatal, are often severe enough to result in some serious injuries. Like any other high-speed accident, they can lead to broken bones or severe head, neck, or back injuries that require extensive medical attention. In some of these accidents, the emergency response vehicle might even leave the scene of the crash to get to the original emergency destination, leaving you injured in the road.
Personal Injury Claims for an Emergency Response Vehicle Accident
An accident with an emergency response vehicle raises some interesting legal issues if you get hurt and want compensation for your injuries.
In most other car accidents, you file a lawsuit against the driver who hit you. However, if you get hit by an emergency response vehicle, that driver was probably on the job with your local town, city, or municipality. Therefore, you will be filing a lawsuit against the government. This requires extra care and attention because the government has set up numerous obstacles that prevent suits just like these.
Philadelphia Emergency Response Vehicle Accident Attorneys
The severity of an accident with an emergency response vehicle makes it all the most important to protect your rights and interests in court. Just because the other driver was driving a police cruiser, ambulance, or fire truck when he or she hit you does not mean they should not be held accountable, or that you should not get the compensation that you need and deserve. Get in touch with the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian for the legal representation you need: Call us at (800) 529-6162 or contact us online.