When an emergency vehicle driver is on the way to save someone’s life, other drivers on the road must yield and use extra caution. But what happens in Louisiana when an emergency vehicle is involved in an accident? And what if you are the other driver in that accident? Can a New Orleans car accident lawyer help?
As you know, police car, fire truck, and ambulance drivers may disregard some of the traffic rules when they respond to emergencies. What you may not realize is that when accidents and injuries happen, an emergency vehicle driver can be held accountable just like any other driver.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT EMERGENCY VEHICLE ACCIDENTS?
The law in Louisiana specifically addresses traffic accidents that involve emergency vehicles. Emergency vehicle drivers may:
- park or stand where necessary, provided they do it safely
- move through traffic signals or stop signs after slowing or stopping as safety necessitates
- exceed the speed limit, provided that life or property is not endangered
- disregard rules governing the direction of traffic or making turns in specified directions
Emergency vehicle drivers in emergency situations must use their flashing lights and sirens. Even a cop on a bicycle patrol must use a whistle if a traffic rule needs to be overlooked in an emergency situation. Finally, the law says:
“The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver … from the duty to drive or ride with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver or rider from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others.”
WHY IS EMERGENCY VEHICLE DRIVER TRAINING SO IMPORTANT?
Emergency vehicle drivers, as you might imagine, sometimes operate under the most stressful of conditions, and they must balance a number of important priorities. Getting swiftly to a crash scene or a crime scene is a priority, but so is avoiding an accident and causing additional injuries.
Good driver training is imperative, because emergency vehicle drivers – who sometimes drive at speeds of almost one hundred mph – rarely have any time to deliberate about a driving decision. Their driving reactions must be instinctive and instantaneous – and they must be right.
EMERGENCY DRIVING – OR RECKLESS DRIVING?
Emergency vehicle drivers are trained so that they do not endanger others when they drive in ways that would otherwise be considered reckless. They drive on shoulders, through traffic signals, and on the wrong side of the road – and they drive fast.
When an emergency vehicle driver decides to drive on the wrong side or through a traffic light, that driver has determined that the action is necessary – rather than reckless – and the driver must not drive in a way that endangers anyone else on the road.
Emergency vehicle drivers must slow down as they approach intersections – to get a good look in each direction – and they must avoid high-speed turns that can cause a loss of control and a serious traffic collision.
WHAT STRESSES DO EMERGENCY VEHICLE DRIVERS FACE?
Emergency vehicle drivers work under tremendous pressures. While they drive at high speeds and navigate traffic, EMTs are also sending to and receiving from dispatchers a constant flow of information, and they’re often looking at printed text on a small electronic screen.
This information sharing makes emergency vehicle drivers more effective, and it undoubtedly saves lives. But it can also distract a driver’s eyes or attention from the road.
Add to these pressures the fact that many of these drivers work long hours, work split shifts, and deal with life-and-death situations and decisions on an almost daily basis. That kind of fatigue and stress can combine to reduce anyone’s ability to drive safely.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO AVOID AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
What can the rest of us do to avoid accidents with emergency vehicles en route to emergency situations? The law in Louisiana requires drivers in this state to:
- yield the right-of-way to the emergency vehicle
- move to the right side of the street quickly and safely
- stay in that spot until the vehicle passes or until a police officer tells you to proceed
A driver in Louisiana who fails to obey these three rules can be fined up to $200.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY?
If you are injured in a Louisiana traffic accident with an emergency vehicle, after you have obtained medical treatment, reach out immediately to a New Orleans personal injury attorney. You’re going to need reliable legal advice and aggressive representation – fast.
Filing a personal injury claim against an emergency vehicle driver can be a bit trickier than a typical personal injury case. If the driver’s employer and the vehicle’s owner is a government agency like a police or fire department, some additional requirements and deadlines will apply.
In Louisiana, the injured victims of negligent drivers are entitled by law to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and all other accident-and-injury-related losses and damages.
HOW WILL AN AUTO ACCIDENT LAW FIRM HELP YOU?
A good personal injury lawyer will guide you step-by-step through the legal process and negotiate on your behalf for the best possible out-of-court settlement.
That’s how most personal injury claims are settled in Louisiana, but if you are not offered an acceptable settlement – and that’s rare – your attorney may recommend taking your case to trial and asking a jury to order the payment of the compensation you need and deserve.
You may be asking how you can afford an attorney if you’re going to be out of work and the medical bills will be mounting. Your first consultation with a New Orleans personal injury lawyer is free. The attorney will recommend your best course of action.
WHAT WILL JUSTICE COST?
If you and your attorney agree that you should file a personal injury claim, you will pay no attorney’s fee until your settlement or judgment is complete. By working on a contingency basis, personal injury lawyers provide a way for every victim of negligence to have a day in court.
This cannot be emphasized strongly enough. If you are injured in a collision with an emergency vehicle in Louisiana, speak at once to an experienced car crash attorney who can give you reliable legal advice.
If you’re injured, you have the right to an attorney’s help, but you must take the first step – and make the call.