When most of us in Florida see an ambulance coming down the road with lights flashing and siren blaring, we pull our vehicles to the side, and let it pass. Nonetheless, collisions involving emergency vehicles do happen, and drivers of those vehicles can be held responsible for not following traffic regulations, even in an emergency.
Leon County Emergency Medical Services is facing an impending lawsuit for an accident on Sept. 5 that injured three people in an SUV. The front seat passenger, a mother of three, suffered the most serious injuries, including a broken pelvis and collapsed lungs. The collision also ruptured her bladder and damaged her liver.
The crash occurred in Tallahassee, Florida, when a county EMS ambulance en route to the scene of a head-on crash ran into the passenger side of the SUV. Ironically, the victims of both auto accidents, the one the ambulance was going to and the one in which it was involved, were coming from the same concert featuring country singer Jason Aldean.
The Leon County Sheriff's Office, which investigated the crash, determined that the paramedic who was driving the ambulance ran a red light before hitting the SUV. He was suspended without pay for three days and will need to take a driver safety class. The state attorney has decided not to file criminal charges against either the driver of the ambulance or the driver of the SUV.
Even though the situation was classified as an emergency, county policy required the paramedic to slow down at the intersection, where the SUV had a green light, to make sure that it was clear. The ambulance hit the SUV at 44 mph.
The family of the injured passenger announced that they will sue the county. The victim's husband, an FBI agent who was driving the SUV, addressed the long road of rehabilitation ahead for his wife, whose youngest child is a baby. She was initially in a coma and confined in a full body cast after the collision.
It is always best that drivers safely pull over when they see or hear an emergency vehicle of any type. Nonetheless, drivers of these vehicles are still required to operate them safely and follow traffic rules. When they do not, victims have every right to pursue legal action against them and the agency for which they are employed.
Source: Tallahassee.com, "Leon EMS driver suspended after crash" Arek Sarkissian II, Oct. 29, 2013