Getting into a car accident is bad enough. But what happens if you get caught up in a crash with an emergency vehicle like a police car, ambulance, paramedics truck, or fire truck? The scenario may sound out of the ordinary, but emergency vehicle accidents are all too common.
Even though emergency vehicles make up a small percentage of the total number of cars on the road, the circumstances around them make them naturally more dangerous.
You may be an innocent bystander who gets caught up in an emergency vehicle accident. But even then, you could be held at fault under the law. That’s because emergency responders get a certain level of qualified immunity when they’re operating on duty.
So what are your rights if you crash into an emergency vehicle? Can you recover damages if you get injured in an accident with an emergency vehicle?
The answer depends on the unique facts of your situation. While emergency responders enjoy a certain level of immunity, that immunity is not absolute. The best action is to talk to a personal injury lawyer who can help you understand your legal options.
Compared to police cars, paramedics trucks, and fire trucks, ambulances are the most likely to crash, particularly when they’re transporting patients with their sirens on.
EMS responders are often overworked on long shifts. An ambulance is a sizable truck that’s not easy to maneuver. When tensions run high, even the best-trained responders make mistakes. The risks get even higher during extreme weather events when roads are flooded or iced over – ironically, this is also when ambulances are most likely to be out responding to calls.
But ambulances aren’t the only dangerous emergency vehicles out there.
Even though emergency responders are technically just doing their jobs, crashes involving emergency vehicles can leave a trail of injured victims in their wake. So what can you do if you get caught up in an accident involving an emergency vehicle?
California, like other states, prioritizes emergency vehicles like ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, and paramedics trucks over others on the road. When an emergency vehicle has activated its siren and emergency lights, other vehicles must get out of the way.
For example, if another car runs a red light and causes a collision, that driver would be responsible for any injuries or damages that result from the crash because of their negligence. But if an ambulance runs a red light in an emergency and crashes into you, the operator may be immune from legal responsibility. You may not be able to sue.
Meanwhile, police officers in California get legal immunity for their actions while on duty, even if their actions are negligent or reckless. California law also gives police officers blanket pursuit immunity for any accidents caused during pursuits.
However, this qualified immunity has some limits depending on the circumstances.
Emergency responders must conduct themselves with a standard of care that includes considering the safety of others. This legal standard may change based on local laws or even whether an ambulance is on the way to or from picking up a patient.
If you can hold the driver responsible for a crash, you can also extend that legal responsibility to the driver’s employer. After all, employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their workers while they’re on the job. The process of suing an EMS service will change depending on whether the ambulance was operated by a private company or the government.
The best way to know if you have a case is to talk to a personal injury lawyer who can help. Click here to contact the experienced team of attorneys at Sepulveda Law now for your free consultation. You don’t pay us until we recover damages for you.