What Happens When Emergency Vehicles Cause Accidents?
Emergency vehicles, such as police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks are expected to respond to urgent situations as soon as possible. Many emergency vehicles disregard traffic signals and drive in the opposite lane to make sure they provide help as soon as possible. First responders play an important role in protecting the safety and well being of others—however, they do cause accidents.
One study estimated that there are approximately 225 accidents involving ambulances every year. These accidents result in injuries to approximately 2,600 people; in addition, 33 individuals lose their lives in ambulance accidents each year.
Fire trucks are reportedly involved in 3,160 accidents every year, and roughly 300 fatalities result from police pursuits every year.
Therefore, there are thousands of accidents caused by emergency vehicles every single year—many of which result in the death of a loved one.
If the drivers of emergency vehicles are responsible for motor vehicle accidents, claims may proceed in a number of ways.
First, New Jersey is a no fault motor vehicle accident state. Unless an accident victim sustains certain injuries, such as disfigurement, dismemberment, or other permanent injuries (or death), the victim’s own insurance covers medical bills.
In serious accidents, however, accident victims may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver—in these cases, the driver of the fire truck, ambulance, or police car.
Filing a claim against these individuals and entities presents certain challenges.
If the emergency responder is privately owned, the claim may proceed as it would against an individual. The victim must show that the emergency responder had a duty to the victim (such as abiding by traffic laws), the duty was breached, and, because of the breach, the victim suffered damages.
If the first responder was owned by a municipality or other government entity, the claim must proceed under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act. Generally, individuals or companies are barred from bringing lawsuits against government entities. However, with certain exceptions, they may be sued. For example, if a claim with similar facts would be allowed against a private citizen, it may proceed against a public entity. Therefore, if an ambulance driver is negligent and causes an accident, the victim may be able to sue the ambulance driver and the entity that operates the ambulances.
Filing a claim under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act has certain requirements. Injured victims must fill out a claim form that includes facts about the accident and submit it to the Tort and Contract Unit of the New Jersey Department of the Treasury.
The time limit for filing a claim against a government entity is much shorter—only 90 days. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney and file a claim as soon as possible to ensure one’s legal rights are protected.
At Lomurro Law, our New Jersey accident lawyers are experienced in emergency vehicle accident claims
The accident attorneys at Lomurro Law are experienced in filing claims against both public and private entities. From the moment you hire us, we work diligently to ensure all avenues of recovery are pursued. To schedule your free consultation with our personal injury attorneys, call 732-482-9285 or contact us online.