We often see ambulances and fire trucks during our daily commutes or while running errands. We probably think of the people aboard these vehicles as heroes, since they rush to save lives. One thing we may not think of, though, is their involvement in emergency vehicle accidents. For example, ambulance accidents alone account for 2,600 injuries each year and police cars cause 300 fatalities a year due to high-speed chases.
When these large vehicles move a high-speeds, the potential for serious injuries can be all too real. Additionally, these vehicles are owned by the government, which means injury claims can be complicated. Therefore, if you were involved in an emergency vehicle accident, it is important to contact a lawyer with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to review the situation and go over your legal option.
Duties and Responsibilities
In Illinois, emergency vehicles are often immune from liability in the event of an accident. However, this depends on the circumstance.
While drivers of emergency vehicles are allowed to speed and run red lights, they must still exercise caution because they are driving around other vehicles on the roadway. They have a duty to drive in a relatively safe manner and avoid reckless behavior that can cause harm to other motorists.
There are several ways in which drivers of emergency vehicles may be considered negligent:
- Not using lights and sirens in an emergency situation
- Turning at excessive speeds
- Tailgating other vehicles
- Speeding through intersections without regard for other motorists
- Driving through spaces that are too narrow
However, other motorists could also be at fault for an accident if they fail to obey the sirens. When an emergency vehicle sounds its siren, it is warning other vehicles to get out the way so that that vehicle can quickly reach its destination and assist the people with an emergency. If a motorist fails to pull over, slows down, or otherwise impedes the emergency vehicle, and a crash occurs, the motorist could be held liable.
Safe Driving Around Emergency Vehicles
In order to drive safely around police cars, ambulances, and fire engines, follow the aptly titled acronym SIREN:
- Stay alert. Use your eyes and ears when driving. If you see an emergency vehicle, be alert. If you hear a siren, look to see where it is coming from.
- Investigate. Once you determine where the siren is coming from, formulate a plan to proceed.
- React. Pull over in a safe area as quickly as possible. Let the vehicle pass you and be alert for others, since there could be several in succession.
- Enter the roadway. Once the roads are clear of emergency vehicles, you can re-enter the roadway. Look carefully, signal, and merge onto the road.
- Never do certain things. When driving where emergency vehicles are present, do not ever pass the vehicle – even if the sirens are not on. You should never tailgate one as well. When pulling over, wait until it is safe to do so. You should never pull over near a cliff or in a crowded area where you could crash into a car.
Getting Legal Help
An accident with an emergency vehicle can be a complicated situation. These types of claims are different from a regular auto accident because the government is involved. There are short deadlines and special requirements you need to follow.
While emergency vehicles are immune from liability in certain instances, you should still file a claim whether or not you are at fault. These vehicles can cause serious injuries, and you have the right to be compensated for your damages. A lawyer can help.
Hit by an emergency vehicle? Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help you preserve your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation, but you need to act quickly.
Let us review your case by calling (312) 236-2900.