The Mercury News recently reported about the aftermath of a 2008 traffic
accident involving a fire truck and a police cruiser. While no one was
injured during the accident, the circumstances of the collision have been
brought into question as the result of a suspension handed down to the
driver of the fire truck for being declared responsible for the crash.
This story brings to light the issue of emergency vehicles, and whether
or not accidents caused by those vehicles are considered the same as accidents
involving all other motorists on the road.
Both vehicles were responding to an emergency involving a 9-year-old boy
who had stopped breathing. While the driver of the fire truck did slow
down as he approached the intersection of Lincoln Street and East Lake
Avenue, the fire truck nevertheless collided with a police cruiser that
was also responding to the emergency. Though the fire truck had both its
lights and sirens turned on, the police department declared that the fire
truck was at fault for the accident because it ran a red light. Reasoning
for the fire truck being at fault, as given by the police department,
was speculation as to “what if the police car had been a minivan
filled with people” and there had been injuries. This scenario seems
relatively cut and dry according to an objective viewpoint of the law.
According to the law, if an emergency vehicle is responding to an emergency,
then all other motorists on the road are required to yield to that vehicle.
In this case, with two emergency vehicles involved, the question arises
as to who was truly at fault. Had there been injuries, both the fire department
and the police department would have each undoubtedly denied responsibility,
and would have done everything in their power to blame each other, disregarding
their actions by focusing solely on the resulting consequences. While
the police department posing the hypothetical situation of what would
have happened if innocent motorists were injured is somewhat hypocritical,
given the notion, the same could have been said in regard to the police
cruiser’s actions. Regardless, emergency personnel are not immune
from accidents and injuries they create simply because they are responding
to other accidents and injury victims.
Accident victims do have rights, and all circumstances surrounding an accident
need to be taken into close consideration in order to determine exactly
who was at fault for creating the accident in the first place. If you
or a loved one has recently been involved in a traffic accident, please
don’t hesitate to contact the auto accident lawyers in Santa Cruz
at Van Der Walde & Associates. We will hold negligible parties responsible
for their actions, and will seek monetary damages on your behalf that
can be used to help cover the costs incurred by your accident, such as
medical bills and physical therapy fees. Please contact us today for a
free consultation at (800) 900-0863.