When an ambulance causes a crash, first responders, patients, pedestrians, and other motorists often suffer serious or fatal injuries. Although drivers of ambulances are permitted to break certain traffic laws, they still must exercise caution when responding to an emergency. When negligence causes a crash, drivers and their employers may be able to be held liable.
Ambulances are involved in an estimated 6,500 collisions each year. About 60% of these crashes happen when the ambulance is in emergency use. Approximately 34% of ambulance accidents result in injuries or fatalities.
Ambulance-Involved Crash Factors
Whether providing emergent transportation or taking a patient from point A to point B, there are numerous factors that contribute to ambulance accidents. Common factors in ambulance crashes include the following:
- Driver fatigue
- Lack of appropriate training
- Failure to activate the emergency lights and sirens.
- Excessive speeding
Driving unsafely through intersections and failing to properly yield also play a role in causing many ambulance-involved wrecks.
Juggling Quick Response and Public Safety
Emergency medical service, or EMS, providers are obligated to get to accidents or other emergency scenes as quickly as possible, but they also owe due regard to the safety of others. EMS drivers can take some liberties with the traffic laws, including passing in otherwise illegal manners, driving over the speed limit, and crossing through intersections against the traffic signals. However, they are still expected to maintain good judgment and take care to avoid collisions to protect the safety of themselves, their patients, and the public.
Who is Liable?
Although they receive some protection from the state’s Good Samaritan law, EMS providers may be held financially responsible for patient injuries when their negligence contributed to the accident. Actions that may qualify as negligence on the part of ambulance drivers include erratic driving, speeding through intersections, and texting and driving.
What Damages Are Available?
When ambulance patients are injured in auto accidents, they may be entitled to recover compensation for their losses. People may receive monetary awards to cover their existing medical bills resulting from the accident, as well as the costs of any associated future health care needs. Parties in ambulance crash lawsuits may also seek compensation for lost wages and lost earning capacity, loss of consortium, loss of use, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.