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December 18, 2015

Emergency Vehicles Can Cause Accidents

philadelphia emergency vehicle accident

When a serious accident, injury, or illness occurs, the first call that goes out is often to emergency personnel including the fire department, emergency medical technicians, and law enforcement officers. Because of the inherently urgent nature of emergencies, emergency vehicles are equipped with sirens and lights that can allow them to ignore traffic signals, drive the wrong way in a lane of traffic, pass cars in a way that would otherwise be unlawful, speed, and other potentially dangerous traffic behaviors.

Simply because drivers of emergency vehicles have the right to take liberties with traffic laws, they still have a duty to avoid driving in an unreasonably dangerous manner that may cause additional and unnecessary injuries to motorists. When an emergency driver fails to do so, they may be found negligent and held responsible for any injuries that resulted. Some examples of possible negligence can include:

  • Not properly using a siren and lights to notify drivers of possibly unusual traffic maneuvering
  • Speeding through intersections without first looking to make sure the way is clear
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Taking turns at too high of a speed
  • Trying to fit through spaces that are too narrow

Collisions involving emergency vehicles may occur more often than you may believe since generally these are the vehicles who are coming to help, not to cause more damage and injury. The following are some statistics regarding accidents involving emergency response vehicles in the United States.

Fire truck collisions

  • Collisions involving motor vehicles are the second-leading cause of death on the job for firefighters. [1]
  • From 2000 to 2009, fire trucks and vehicles were involved in an estimated 31,600 collisions.
  • 70 percent of those collisions happened while the fire truck was reporting to an emergency.
  • 49 collisions resulted in at least one death.
  • Two-thirds of fatal fire truck accidents involved a rollover accident.

Ambulance collisions

The following statistics are from a 2014 report on ambulance crashes published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): [2]

  • An average of 2,600 people sustain injuries in ambulance accidents on an annual basis.
  • About 33 people die in ambulance accident every year.
  • 35 percent of ambulance accidents cause injury or death.
  • Of the ambulance-related fatalities, 4 percent were the drivers of the ambulances, 21 percent were people being transported by the ambulance, 12 percent were non-occupants of any vehicle, and 63 percent were occupants of other vehicles involved in the collision.

Police car collisions

  • Police car pursuits led to about 300 fatal crashes in one year.
  • Almost one-third of fatalities were people who were not part of the pursuit and were either in other vehicles or were pedestrians.

These statistics could be very low, however, as a recent investigation indicated [3], in its attempt to report information on all types of traffic crashes, NHTSA failed to track all police car-related accidents and fatalities and the true number may be thousands of fatalities higher.

If you are injured in a collision due to a negligent fire truck, ambulance, or police car driver, you deserve to be properly compensated just like after any other type of accident. These cases, however, often involve government entities and, therefore, can have additional complications that are not at issue in a regular auto accident case. For example, claims against the government have different deadlines and requirements and you do not have as much time to bring your case. For this reason, you should always contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible following this type of accident and you should make sure that attorney knows how to handle claims against the government.

Call a Philadelphia car accident lawyer for a free consultation today

Anyone who causes a serious auto accident due to negligence should be held liable for their actions, even drivers of emergency vehicles. If emergency drivers breach their duty of care to other motorists, any injured motorists should receive full and just compensation for their injuries and all of their injury-related losses. At The Levin Firm in Philadelphia, we handle all types of auto accident cases no matter what type of vehicles may be involved. We have the resources to pursue even the most complex legal claims, so do not hesitate to call to learn more about how we can help you. Call a Philadelphia auto accident attorney at 215-825-5183 for help today.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3503424/

[2] https://www.naemt.org/Files/HealthSafety/2014%20NHTSA%20Ground%20Amublance%20Crash%20Data.pdf

[3] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/09/29/nhtsa-police-high-speed-pursuit/72617864/

 

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