What Happens After a Car Accident With an Emergency Vehicle?

March 28, 2024
Personal Injury

When a police car, fire truck, or ambulance is speeding down the road with its lights flashing and its siren blaring, it means that police officers, emergency medical technicians, or firefighters are responding to an emergency. Other motor vehicles nearby are expected to move out of the way and allow emergency vehicles to pass. Emergency vehicles usually drive through red lights and they exceed the speed limit to put out fires, save lives, or help with other potentially life-threatening emergencies. Legally, they're allowed to do this when they're responding to emergencies.

However, anytime a motor vehicle is driving through red lights and speeding, there's an increased risk of an automobile accident. When a passenger vehicle is involved in a car accident with an emergency vehicle, determining who is at fault for the accident is a complex process. A skilled personal injury attorney can closely review the details of the crash and help accident victims with the personal injury claims process.

Traffic crashes involving emergency vehicles happen rarely, but they happen. In 2018, the National Safety Council (NSC) reported that168 people were fatally injured in traffic accidents involving emergency vehicles. Nearly 50% of the victims were occupants of passenger motor vehicles. Police cars caused the most fatalities, followed closely by ambulances, then fire trucks. If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in an accident involving emergency vehicles, it's essential to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

At Marks Law Group, our skilled car accident attorneys in Decatur have decades of experience helping emergency vehicle accident victims throughout Georgia recover the financial compensation they deserve and we can help you. For a free case review, contact our personal injury law firm today at (678) 251-9309.

Who is At-Fault in a Traffic Accident Involving an Emergency Vehicle?

It's essential to note that emergency vehicles are owned by the government or are used on behalf of government agencies. This can make it daunting for a motorist to file a personal injury claim against the driver who was driving the emergency vehicle at the time of the traffic accident. In many states, emergency vehicle drivers are immune from personal injury claims if the crash happened while the ambulance driver or the police were responding to an emergency.

However, that sovereign immunity depends on the details of the collision and whether the driver’s reckless driving or negligent behavior caused the crash. For instance, if the driver was speeding through a red light and didn't turn on the vehicle’s flashing lights and siren, he or she can be held responsible for the accident. 

Related: Who Is At Fault In Georgia Car Accidents?

What Happens if an Ambulance Hits your Vehicle?

When a motor vehicle accident involves an ambulance, that's responding to an emergency, the crash can cause the occupants of the ambulance and the occupants of the passenger vehicle to sustain severe injuries, especially if the ambulance was moving at a high speed. The following key points about ambulance crashes are essential to note:

  • Ambulance services are normally run by state or local government agencies. When an accident victim files a personal injury claim against a government agency, it'll involve shorter filing deadlines and unique forms.
  • Ambulance occupants have the same rights as the occupant of a passenger vehicle who sustained a physical injury.
  • If there's a medical lien against the ambulance crash settlement proceeds, this could make it challenging to collect financial compensation.


What Happens if a Police Car Hits You?

When police officers are responding to an emergency, they use wide-ranging devices in the police car to make sure that they arrive at the right destination, and that the route they're taking is the shortest. That involves using police scanners, laptops, GPS devices, and other technology to communicate with dispatch. With all these devices, police officers may get distracted while driving.

A moment of distraction can cause serious emergency vehicle accidents, especially if the police car is speeding. However, even if the police officer’s distracted driving caused the traffic accident, holding the emergency responder liable for any resulting bodily injuries is a complicated process. Law enforcement officers are supported by strong legal teams, often they have personal relationships with judges and other government officials and judges, and will typically have the support of their fellow police officers. For the regular person, pursuing a personal injury claim against a law enforcement officer can be taxing.

Although these cases are complex, an experienced auto accident lawyer will fight fiercely for clients who have been injured in an auto crash involving a police car. It's imperative for emergency vehicle accident victims to gather as much evidence as possible, including photographs of the crash scene and the surrounding road conditions, the position of the vehicles, skid marks on the road, any debris on the road, stop signs, and traffic lights. If the accident victim suffered severe physical injuries or property damage, he or she should collect estimates for the cost to repair or replace their vehicle, copies of medical records, personal accounts from other drivers and passengers who were involved in the accident, and witness testimonies.

If a police officer was reckless, he or she was bound by the same traffic laws and expected to follow the same rules and regulations on the road as civilians. Even during a high-speed chase, law enforcement officers must prioritize public safety and avoid driving in a way that endangers pedestrians, other drivers, or cyclists. When an injured person files a personal injury lawsuit against a police officer, the claim must be filed with the police department and with the insurance company as soon as possible. An automobile accident lawyer will protect your legal rights, communicate with the insurance companies, and make sure that there are no unnecessary delays, which are a common phenomenon when dealing with government agencies.  

Related: How Long Does It Take To Settle A Car Accident Claim In Georgia?

If you or a loved one were severely injured in a car crash involving an emergency vehicle, contact our Decatur personal injury firm as soon as possible. These traffic collisions differ from motor vehicle accidents because emergency vehicle drivers are typically immune from any liability unless they were reckless. Our skilled legal team will conduct an in-depth investigation and gather the evidence needed to protect your legal rights and secure the monetary compensation you deserve. Call us at (678) 251-9309 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.