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Steven M. Lee, PC

Q:
Emergency response vehicles drive so erratically. What happens if I am in a wreck with one of these vehicles?

A:

We’ve all seen emergency response vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances racing toward an emergency call—more likely, we heard them first, then saw them. These large vehicles, sirens blaring, lights flashing, and horns honking, seem to defy all rules of the road on their way to help someone in distress.

Recently, a Houston Fire Department truck was involved in an accident with another vehicle. Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident, but the other vehicle—a Ford Mustang—was substantially damaged. Was the crash due to the firefighters’ intense focus on responding to the call no matter what, or was there something else that caused this crash?

Driving Around Emergency Response Vehicles Requires More of You, the Driver

Emergency responders such as firefighters are governed by a slightly different set of driving rules when they are on their way to an emergency call. These vehicles are able to cross a double yellow line, speed, and go through a red light as long as it is safe to do so—usually this means having their lights and/or sirens on, and using caution when deviating from standard traffic laws. Since drivers should slow down, clear the way, and not follow these vehicles, it is usually a nonissue.

In the case of the Houston accident, the fire truck was going to a call with its lights on when the driver of the Mustang attempted to pass the truck—needless to say, this move ended in a collision. The woman behind the wheel of the Mustang was issued a citation for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. In this scenario, the woman was liable for the crash, and therefore will be held responsible for the damages.

It is still possible for emergency responders to drive negligently or even dangerously, however. Nonstandard maneuvers must be made only after it is determined safe to do so—this is why you usually see these vehicles proceed very slowly as they approach a red light that the driver intends to drive through.

Get Help Proving Fault

If you are injured in an accident with an emergency vehicle, it will much harder to prove that the accident was not your fault, but it is still possible. If the driver of the truck or ambulance was acting negligently, you can pursue compensation from the city that governs the department.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident involving an emergency response vehicle and you feel that you were not liable, contact attorney Steve Lee today. He can meet with you in a free, private consultation to discuss your case and inform you of your options. Call today!

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