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  • Emergency Vehicle are accidents

    Who's at fault when involving an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens on? We had a couple come into the ER driving an ambulence and taking the nessesary precautions before entering an intersection (as they stated) And a SUV hit them on the side that had the green light.

  • #2
    for the most part... usually the emergency vehicle operator.

    i know a guy who was driving lights and sirens, was hit by an unlicensed driver who blew a red light and was sued and lost.

    lets hope they have cevo or evoc to back up that they were trained to drive the vehicle.

    i THINK the way it works, is if it was the other drivers fault its the insurance company of the organization you are representing that is liable. if you do something wrong (you roll through a red light and get hit) its all on you and you can be sued and held liable.

    my uncle was sued after side swiping car while driving a fire truck. he admits it was his fault as he didn't have enough room, but he was sued and had to pay for his own attorneys and everything.

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    • #3
      now that i read it again, if they were hit by a car that had the green light they are 100 percent at fault. you can only go through a stop sign or stop light after coming to a COMPLETE stop, and making sure it is safe to continue.

      it happens more then you think, it'll be a nice law suit

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      • #4
        Originally posted by NorwichCadet View Post
        Who's at fault when involving an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens on? We had a couple come into the ER driving an ambulence and taking the nessesary precautions before entering an intersection (as they stated) And a SUV hit them on the side that had the green light.
        It all comes down to he said/she said, and witnesses.

        My buddy was involved in a bad accident a couple years ago in a RMP. He has his lights and sirens on and was going to a legit job. Proceeded through the intersection and a yellow can decided to not be patient and went around a garbage truck and hit the RMP.

        Cabby was found at fault due to good witnesses and other important factors.

        By state law you must yield to emergency vehicles.
        Last edited by NYCTNT; 10-20-2009, 05:55 AM.
        Captain Square Badge, reporting for duty!.

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        • #5
          it might as well as the departmental policy, how much the management to back their officers, and the local media. In my current department, we even have to pay for the redlight camera tickets if lights and siren was not initiated.
          Integrity First
          Service Before Self
          Excellence In All We Do

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          • #6
            well the situation was an ambulance was in route to our hospital for a non life threatning condition. Parents could've taken the bus or train or walk to our hospital and the kid would've been fine. So it was not an clear life threatening emergency. Does that affect who's at fault also?

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            • #7
              it could, wouldn't really come out unless the person they hit sues though.

              then they would have to prove a peer with the same training/certification could have reasonably made that same decision regarding going lights/sirens (there's a legal term for this i just can't remember it). This would be on top of of proving they took all precautions when proceeding through the intersection and the other driver was at fault.

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              • #8
                And it's called Exercising Due Regard. Even if an intersection has a green light, Police and Fire/EMS still need to be prepared to stop.

                Not every LEO/EMS/FF are sued for an accident that occurred while enroute to an emergency call. It's usually the agency/city that is sued. Not the individual.
                "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."

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                • #9
                  There are a lot of factors and variables that need to be taken into consideration in order to make a determination as to who is actually at fault. So there isn't really a clear and simple answer to your question.

                  To give you some guidance, under Section 1104 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, an operator of an emergency vehicle has a statutory privilege to violate all traffic laws that governs other motorists. However, the operator of the emergency vehicle can still be held liable for injuries caused when violating traffic laws other non-emergency vehicles are required to obey.

                  There are two New York Court of Appeals cases which set the standard in holding an emergency operator liable which are Saarinen v. Kerr, 84 N.Y.2d 494, 620 N.Y.S.2d 297 (1994) and Campbell v. City of Elmira, 84 N.Y.2d 505, 620 N.Y.S.2d 302(1994). These two Court of Appeals cases created the "reckless disregard" standard which, in a nut shell, held that an operator of an emergency vehicle who complies with all of the requirements of the statute can only be found liable if he drives with reckless disregard for the safety of others.

                  The plaintiff (the SUV operator) would need to show that the ambulance driver acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. So the answer to your question depends on the particular facts of the case which would be fleshed out in the course of the litigation through discovery (i.e. ambulance logs, reports, police reports, 911 logs, depositions, discovery demands, accident reports, interviews of witnesses, weather condition, road/visibility conditions, speed of the vehicles, accident reconstruction experts etc.)

                  The "privilege" of disobeying traffic laws is available only to operators of emergency vehicles responding to an emergency. In your scenario, you indicated that the ambulance was en-route back to the hospital with a patient who did not a non-life threatening condition. So even if the lights and sirens were blaring away, the plaintiff's attorney would probably try to argue that the operator acted with reckless disregard to others given that there was no true urgency and there was no need to run the red light at the intersection. The defense would probably argue the opposite that the ambulance operator acted with due care.

                  This is a very simple and brief overview of the reckless disregard standard. It's more complicated and tricky and like I said, it depends on the particular facts of the case presented. In addition, it also depends on the location of the Court hearing the case. The courts in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Departments each have a slightly different view as to what would constitute "reckless disregard".

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