Operators of private ambulances, hospital ambulances, police cruisers, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles may permissibly violate traffic laws when responding to an actual emergency. These first- responders are allowed to exceed the speed limit, go through a red light or stop sign and park in areas where stopping or parking would otherwise not be permitted. Notwithstanding the law allowing for emergency responders to violate traffic laws, they may still be held liable if they collide with another vehicle or strike a pedestrian while operating a motor vehicle. There are a myriad of rules that apply though. If you are injured when an emergency vehicle strikes you or a vehicle you are driving or a passenger in, then you will need the assistance of an experienced NYC personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you're entitled to.
Ordinary Negligence Vs. Reckless Disregard
An important distinction to take note of is that there are different situations where an emergency responder is liable for ordinary negligence and when a different and higher standard is applicable. Ordinary negligence is applied to most drivers on the road. If found to have been negligent of the operation of a motor vehicle under this standard, it means that the at-fault driver failed to drive using the standard of care reasonably expected of the average driver. Running a red light, travelling at an excessive rate of speed given the circumstances, surroundings, weather conditions and speed limit are all examples of what may constitute negligence.
However, pursuant to the law there is an exception for operators of emergency vehicles. When responding to an emergency, first-responders are allowed to violate the traffic laws as mentioned above. They are also not liable for ordinary negligence that injures another. To hold an emergency responder liable, you must be able to prove that the driver acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. And so it is harder to be a successful personal injury litigant in a case brought against an emergency vehicle operator.
Causes of Emergency Vehicle Accidents
Most vehicle operators know that an emergency vehicle is coming when they hear emergency sirens, see the vehicle's lights or both. But for many different reasons, a driver may not see an emergency vehicle approaching and fail to pull over or move to allow space for the vehicle. Because emergency vehicles must move quickly when responding, they are often travelling at very high rates of speed which can potentially lead to a collision.
If you have been injured in an accident with an emergency vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. An NYC personal injury lawyer can look closely at your case and help determine if the emergency vehicle driver or another party may liable for the accident and the injuries you sustained.