Because a fire truck is a government vehicle, being injured by one can feel intimidating. You may think that first responders are protected from accident liability by law. But first responders can become distracted and drive unsafely on the way to a fire. On average, about 30,000 firetruck accidents happen every year. And depending on the circumstances, fire truck personnel can be held responsible for a fire truck crash.
At D’Amore Law Group, we encourage victims of fire truck accidents to speak with a lawyer who understands first response protocols and relevant traffic laws. You may be entitled to compensation, but once the city gets involved, filing a claim requires extra steps. An experienced attorney can walk you through these steps and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.
What Should I Do After a Fire Truck Accident?
If you or any of your passengers are injured, the first thing you should do is go to a hospital and seek medical treatment. This is important regardless of the seriousness of your injury because injuries don’t always involve visible wounds. Visiting a hospital is also important if you file a personal injury claim. If you do not seek immediate medical treatment, the insurance company or the party defending the city can use that against you to argue that your injuries were not severe enough to warrant a claim.
- Damage to any vehicle is over $2,500 (even if your car was the only one in the crash);
- Any vehicle is towed from the scene;
- Injury or death resulted from this accident; or
- Damages to anyone’s property other than a vehicle involved in the accident are greater than $2,500.
Next, you should contact an attorney. When you are involved in a fire truck accident, pursuing a claim means filing a lawsuit against your local government. In this way, filing a fire engine accident claim is not as straightforward as filing a regular accident claim. An attorney can investigate the accident and help determine whether it is appropriate to file a lawsuit against the government. An attorney can also write a convincing claim for your right to compensation.
Causes of Fire Truck Accidents
The cause of fire truck accidents varies. Fire trucks take priority over all other vehicles on the road during an emergency. Rules of the road dictate that you move out of the fire truck’s lane and stop on the side of the road until the fire truck passes. Drivers who fail to move out of the way can cause crashes.
Sometimes though, firefighters make driving mistakes that cause collisions. Fire trucks that fail to stop at red lights and stop signs can hit other vehicles in an intersection. Fire trucks often also speed to get to a destination or emergency. While allowed, speeding usually leaves other motorists little time to react, leading to accidents. Not securing ladders or hoses correctly before firefighters leave the station has also been linked to accidents.
Emergencies give rise to reckless driving habits. From weaving in and out of lanes to rushing through intersections, fire trucks commonly break traffic laws to save lives. And when other drivers fail to react to an oncoming emergency vehicle, the likelihood of a fire truck accident increases.
Who Is at Fault in a Fire Truck Accident?
Drivers owe a duty of care to the other drivers on the road. This means that every driver has a duty to follow the road rules and pay attention to the actions of other drivers and pedestrians. When a driver fails to do so, they are often held liable for any accidents.
The duty of care can encompass more than just a driver. Vehicle manufacturers, government entities that maintain roads, and employers who hire drivers are examples of other parties that may be liable for an accident. A mechanic can even be liable if you can prove they acted negligently in fixing (or failing to fix) your vehicle. In some cases, several parties may be held liable for one accident.
Fault in Oregon
Oregon follows a “fault” based system for car accidents. This means that the person at fault for the accident is responsible for the harm it caused. More than one person can be responsible for an accident, including the driver who incurred injuries. In this case, fault will be apportioned, and restitution will be based on your or the other driver’s percentage of fault.
If a fire truck driver’s negligence causes an accident—and you can prove they committed negligence—they are at fault for at least some portion of the accident.
However, government entities own fire trucks, and government entities are responsible for their employee’s actions.
Government entities are also protected under a concept called sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity, also known as governmental immunity, protects a government entity from legal responsibility for accidents or lawsuits. While sovereign immunity doesn’t always prohibit an accident victim from filing a lawsuit involving an emergency vehicle, it raises the bar for proving fire truck accident liability. Cases involving fire truck accidents are more complex, and the requirements for proving driver fault are significantly higher. Courts also tend to be more forgiving toward emergency responders if the accident occurred during an emergency. For these reasons, it is helpful to work with an experienced lawyer who understands the procedural ins and out of dealing with government entities.
D’Amore Law Group Can Help
With over 30 years of experience and 2000+ cases under our belt, D’Amore Law Group has the skill and understanding needed to move forward with your fire truck accident case. Our hard work and commitment to excellence has won us recognition in our field as we were recognized by Best Lawyers this year, and we were rated by Super Lawyer as one of the top 50 firms in Oregon. We understand the stress of dealing with a severe injury or death, and we are devoted to one thing—focusing on our commitment to you. In fact, we do not charge fees unless we win. If you have been injured in a fire truck accident, call or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.