As a car accident lawyer, and as a frequent driver, it has been my experience that the great majority of drivers will yield to an emergency vehicle. For example, if you hear a siren and see that an ambulance is approaching, you pull over and let it pass.
Significantly, yielding to an ambulance or another emergency vehicle is not only the moral thing to do. It is not only common courtesy. It is not only something that you do because, if it were you in the ambulance, you would want to arrive at the hospital quickly.
Rather, yielding to an emergency vehicle is also the law in New Jersey. I would imagine that it is also the law most anywhere else in the country.
However, as a car accident lawyer, I can be confronted with a case where a driver did not fail to yield to an emergency vehicle, yet was still struck by the vehicle and hurt.
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An Accident Lawyer Question About Emergency Calls
Can such an accident victim possibly sue the driver of the emergency vehicle?
You would think not. After all, aren’t emergency vehicles allowed to violate all traffic laws? Like laws respecting red lights and speeding.
So the answer to my question may surprise you. Emergency vehicle drivers actually may not always ignore traffic laws.
It is true that emergency vehicle drivers on emergency calls may often disregard traffic laws. Thus, the driver of an emergency vehicle, on an emergency call, need not exercise the same care that the law requires of an ordinary motorist.
Still, the law requires the driver of even an emergency vehicle out on a call to take reasonable precautions. He or she may only disregard traffic laws to the extent necessary to fulfill his or her mission.
In short, an emergency driver must not drive with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Rather, he or she must anticipate the dangers that his or her operation of the emergency vehicle involves. The driver must exercise reasonable care for the safety of others.
Therefore, should an emergency vehicle ever strike and injure you, you may have a valid personal injury claim. It all depends on the specific facts of the case.