Do you have recourse when an emergency vehicle hits you?
You regularly see emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances and fire trucks, their sirens blaring as they rush to accident scenes or transport injured people to the hospital.
In a twist of irony, though, emergency vehicles can be at higher risk of involvement in a vehicle crash. High speeds and the element of surprise for other drivers make for a dangerous combination. So, emergency personnel who are helping someone could end up hurting or killing someone else.
If one strikes and injures you, do you have legal recourse? In many cases, yes, you do.
The driver may have been acting irresponsibly
Emergency vehicles have limited right-of-way under the law. Maryland is one of the 47 states with a “Move Over” law. Other drivers are required to pull over or yield to police, fire and rescue teams when their lights and sirens are engaged.
However, the drivers of emergency vehicles cannot simply barrel through intersections or zip in and out of traffic. Those drivers must drive with due regard for the safety of those around them. Unfortunately this does not always happen. For example, police officers or ambulance drivers might take risks that, to other people, would be obviously dangerous. Moreover, the drivers of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks are not immune to the usual things that can befall other drivers: driving distracted (perhaps checking texts), driving drowsy or driving under the influence.
The driver may not have received proper training
There is much to be desired when it comes to ambulance driver training. For example, paramedic schools focus on other matters. It is often an employer’s responsibility to train drivers. Unfortunately, some employers do not take this responsibility seriously, or give drivers bad information about their legal duty or their authority to exceed the speed limit or run traffic lights.
Should you do something?
The thought of suing a city, hospital or government agency for one of its employees’ negligent behavior can be emotionally difficult. However, you need help for your serious injuries, and insurance companies do not go out of their way to be generous. You are not “hurting” a public safety department but rather raising awareness of safe driving practices and even possibly helping to take a dangerous driver off the roads.