In a recent and very tragic case, a woman who had been struck by a driver in a Dodge Charger while crossing at an intersection was later killed when the ambulance taking her to the hospital reportedly traveled the wrong way on a one-way street and was struck by a driver in a Jeep.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for emergency vehicles such as ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks to be involved in crashes while operating in emergency mode. The combination of speed, the legal ability to disregard traffic signals and other road laws, and the inattention of other drivers means that emergency vehicles are involved in crashes significantly more often on average than civilian and non-emergency vehicles. So what happens when your ambulance crashes?
Who is Liable for Injuries and Damage When an Emergency Vehicle Crashes?
In the usual car crash situation, the question is whether the driver was negligent when operating the vehicle and whether that negligence was a cause of the victim’s injuries (or death). Emergency vehicles operating in emergency mode benefit from a higher standard, however. Essentially, the operator is not liable unless the driver showed “reckless disregard” for the safety of others while operating the vehicle in emergency mode.
This means a court considering a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the operator of an emergency vehicle that was in emergency mode at the time of the crash will consider things like how fast the vehicle was traveling and on what kind of street; whether that speed was excessive or not under the circumstances; if the emergency lights and siren were on; and other factors that bear on whether the operator’s actions were in reckless disregard for the safety of others.
The Stakes Are Higher in Emergency Vehicle Cases
If you have been injured in a crash while in an ambulance, whether or not it was operating in emergency mode at the time, your case is more complicated than the typical personal injury case because of the higher standard of proof that often applies in emergency vehicle crash cases. At Campson & Campson, we have experience with these special kinds of personal injury cases. We can help you determine whether you may have a right to receive compensation for your injuries.
Contact us at (212) 302-1180 or via our online contact form to learn more about how we can help.