Who is Liable for Accidents Involving Florida Emergency Vehicles?
We all know that when an emergency vehicle approaches with its sirens going and lights flashing, that we need to make our way to the side of the road as quickly and as safely as possible. However, this is not always possible, in which case, a person could end up in a collision with an ambulance, fire truck, or other emergency vehicle. While not always easy, it is possible to hold negligent emergency responders accountable when their actions cause a collision, so if you were hurt in a collision with an emergency vehicle, you should reach out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyer who can investigate and evaluate your case.
Recognizing the crucial role that emergency responders play in putting out fires, providing medical care, and helping accident victims, Florida lawmakers give emergency vehicle operators some leeway in regards to traffic laws. Emergency vehicles, for instance, are allowed to proceed through red lights and stop signs, but must first slow down before doing so. Similarly, they can exceed the maximum speed limit and disregard rules related to turning, direction, and movement, but only if the driver is not endangering the life or property of others. This does not mean, however, that emergency responders have free rein to drive recklessly or to needlessly endanger the lives of others.
Under Florida’s Move Over Law all drivers that are approached by an emergency vehicle that is en route to an existing emergency (as evidenced by flashing lights and sirens) must yield the right-of-way to that vehicle and:
- Pull over as close as possible to the curb;
- Clear the intersection; and
- Remain stopped until the emergency vehicle has passed.
Drivers who comply with these laws, but are still struck by an emergency responder could be entitled to compensation if they can prove that the driver in question failed to slow down when passing a stop sign or traffic signal, or exceeded the speed limit in a way that endangered the life and property of others. Fortunately, even if an injured party contributed to an accident, he or she could still be entitled to recovery. This is because Florida adheres to the legal theory of comparative negligence, under which injured parties who contribute to their own accidents can still collect compensation, although their award will be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault in causing the crash.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Auto Accident Lawyers
Filing a negligence-based case against the driver of an emergency vehicle can be complicated, as it usually involves filing a claim against a government agency. There are also certain rules that claimants must follow when filing this type of claim, so if you or a loved one were hurt by an emergency vehicle driver’s negligence, please contact our car accident attorneys at Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 before proceeding with your claim. Initial consultations are offered free of charge, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our office by phone or online message.