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I was in a Car Accident With an Emergency Vehicle. Who is Liable?

June 12, 2019

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers discuss liability for an accident with an emergency vehicle. Anyone with a bit of driving experience has most likely crossed paths with an emergency vehicle racing to the scene of a motor vehicle accident, fire, or other emergency. Time is of the essence for these brave men and women who put themselves at risk to assist others in need. While it is rare, emergency vehicles traveling at high speeds can and do crash.

Emergency Vehicle Crashes in the United States

In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published the results of a 20-year study on ambulance crashes in the United States. Based on the accident data collected during this time, they found on average, ambulances are involved in 4,500 motor vehicle accidents every year. More than one-third of ambulance crashes result in injuries to drivers, passengers, and patients.

Data on police car wrecks is equally as disconcerting. High-speed chases are one major cause of serious injuries and fatalities, not just to the individuals being chased, but law enforcement officers and other motorists involved in a crash with a police car. Annually, there are around 300 pursuit-related fatal wrecks across the country. One-third of people fatally injured in these crashes are not involved in the police chase.

Emergency Vehicles and Driver Responsibility

Every driver should know what to do when an emergency vehicle approaches. “Move over” laws penalize drivers who fail to yield to emergency vehicles if they are safely able to do so. When drivers and pedestrians disregard speeding police cars or refuse to get out of the way, they are putting themselves at risk and endangering emergency workers and those they are rushing to assist.

Sometimes it is the drivers of emergency vehicles who are at fault for a wreck. While drivers are expected to get to the scene of an emergency quickly, they also need to exercise reasonable caution when navigating through traffic. If they fail to use lights and sirens, unsuspecting drivers may be totally unaware a speeding vehicle is about to cross their path.

Liability and Emergency Vehicle Wrecks

When a crash involving an emergency vehicle occurs, who is liable? There is no simple answer. In many cases, responsibility lies on the driver of the non-emergency vehicle who failed to yield to the police car, ambulance, or firetruck. In other cases, the emergency responder who failed to anticipate the potential scenario ahead and ensure all traffic was stopped before proceeding may be held liable.

There are also crashes where both drivers bear some fault. Ultimately, law enforcement determines what caused the crash and where fault lies. From there, victims may decide to bring a personal injury claim against the negligent driver who caused their wreck.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Represent Clients Injured in Wrecks with Emergency Vehicles

If you have been injured in a wreck with an emergency vehicle, you should know these cases are more complex than other motor vehicle accidents. When emergency responders are involved, the other party is a government agency, subject to their own rules and deadlines regarding accident reporting and liability. Our Virginia Beach car accident attorneys are experienced in these types of cases and can explain your legal rights and options after an accident.

Many clients assume because their wreck was caused by a police officer or other first responder, they have no legal basis to bring a claim. But that is not necessarily the case. Call 757-352-2237 or contact East Coast Trial Lawyers through our online form to schedule your free case review to learn more. Located in Virginia Beach, we represent clients throughout the areas of Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia.

Areas We Serve

Our law firm proudly serves clients injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina on personal injury claims, including cases with traumatic brain injury, spinal and neck injury, wrongful death, and more serious injuries. As Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys with many years experience, our team of lawyers will be ready to fight for you. If you were injured on the job, our Virginia Beach Workers Compensation lawyers are ready to serve you.

Call 757-352-2237 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation about your personal injury, workers compensation, or other attorney services. Our firm adopts a team approach to every case, so while one primary lawyer will be assigned to your case, you have the benefit of an experienced team of lawyers, all working on your side. We are located in Virginia Beach, VA, and serve clients who were injured anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina.

301 Bendix Road, Suite 460
Virginia Beach VA 23452
Ph: 757-352-2237 | Fax: 757-994-8910