Emergency vehicles run faster than other vehicles to save lives. And it’s a common rule that other drivers should let them go first. But, what if an ambulance gets in an accident with another vehicle? What if you’re the driver of that vehicle and weren’t at fault?
Will the emergency vehicles (which by the way may be transporting a severely injured person who needs medical help ASAP) stop at the scene and wait for the police?
What if You Caused the Crash With an Ambulance?
In case you were at fault for the accident (you hit the ambulance) then you should seek a car accident attorney. Your lawyer will ask you things such as “did you have the chance to stop,” or “were the ambulance traveling with active and sirens and lights.”
When a driver hits emergency vehicles, other driving factors will be investigated as well (whether you stopped at a red light, were you careful enough to notice the ambulance, why didn’t you stop, were you speeding, etc.).
The answers to these questions will play a big part in the degree of your fault.
What If the Ambulance Hits Your Vehicle?
But, there are cases when the ambulance hits another vehicle. In that case, many drivers aren’t sure what to do. Although these vehicles often speed, their drivers are trained to handle the road carefully and avoid accidents.
For example, if the road is gridlocked and an ambulance pushes a vehicle out of the way to access an open lane or a shoulder, then this hit might not be a big deal.
The driver may come under an investigation; the city and the police can investigate the driver’s actions and will go through drug screening to make sure if there was alcohol or other substances involved.
When an ambulance hits you, you should pull over and call the police. It’s entirely normal that the ambulance continues its way (especially if they’re heading to help save lives). You shouldn’t worry about this, since the driver will contact their emergency dispatch to inform them about the crash.
In case the accident occurred when the ambulance wasn’t en route, then the entire process will be the same as it is for any auto accident.
Determining Fault in an Accident With an Ambulance
Ambulance vehicles must obey the road rules, except in emergencies. These vehicles are allowed to drive fast, run on red lights, drive on shoulders in case they are rushing to save human lives. Drivers of emergency vehicles are trained for such situations and regularly have to judge the decisions on the road to make it fast to the hospital. These decisions may be right or wrong, but they can’t be discussed when there’s an emergency.
Ordinary negligence applies to most drivers; it means the driver failed to drive with the standard care that is expected from any driver. Speeding, not stopping at the red light, failing to signal or look before changing lanes, texting, etc., are scenarios where a driver is considered negligent.
If this happens with an ambulance driver, then they won’t be considered liable. They won’t be liable for ordinary negligence that caused an injury to another person. To prove the ambulance driver was liable, you must prove that the driver showed reckless disregard for others. This legal term, “reckless disregard,” requires a standard proof that is higher than simple negligence.
It means that it’s much harder to prove it against an ambulance driver. If the sirens and emergency rotation lights were on, you cannot prove that the driver was reckless, because they didn’t want to cause the accident. They were simply doing their job, trying to get as fast as possible to the emergency scene or hospital.
Consult an Attorney
When handling issues with emergency vehicles, it’s possible that your insurance company or the emergency transport service will argue fault and will drag the process out further.
This is why you should consult with a car accident attorney who has previous experience with such cases. The complexity of the case may not lead you to the wanted results (getting a compensation claim), but it’s a smart thing to have an attorney who will advise you and help you understand your case better.
Get your first free consultation with the Cellino Law team.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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