There has been a nationwide increase in fire truck accidents and California is no exception. On June 30, 2016, an LAFD fire truck was involved in an accident involving three other vehicles, injuring four civilians, two critically. This was just one of many fire truck crashes reported in the state in 2016. The fault in that accident is undisclosed, but the investigation will show that someone was at fault.
The law gives responding emergency vehicles using lights and sirens, the right of way over all other vehicles. In other words, if a fire truck is responding to a call, get out of the way. However, emergency vehicles should not drive in a reckless manner, speed to where it endangers the public or drive through traffic signals without exercising caution.
Fire trucks pose a greater risk of accidents with injuries because of several factors. They are very heavy, especially those that are filled with thousands of gallons of water, making them difficult to control. They are often exceeding the speed limit on crowded city streets. Despite having their warning lights, horns and sirens operating, they may suddenly appear in the path of other vehicles. Newer passenger vehicles have excellent sound proofing coupled with surrounding sound systems that make an approaching emergency vehicle difficult to hear until it is very close. Then consider the possibility of the passenger vehicle driver being distracted by texting, talking or some other activity. While fire truck drivers may exceed the speed limit to reach an emergency they are required to slow down at intersection and make sure the path is clear. To assume the driver of a passenger vehicle sees the fire engine and will stop, can be a critical error on the part of the fire truck driver, leading to a collision.
Firefighters riding on the truck may also be easily injured. They are often seated without restraints or standing with only their grip to hold them in place. Any sudden impact can cause the rider to be catapulted from their position. 66% of all fatal fire truck crashes involve rollovers. Unsecured equipment and apparatus such as hoses and ladders may cause injury if they become loose while the truck is in motion. Fire truck accidents are the second leading cause of on-the-job deaths for firefighters per data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA).
Injured in a Fire Truck Accident?
Anyone who is injured in a fire truck accident should seek the help of an experienced truck accident attorney. The laws pertaining to vehicles owned and operated by the city, county or state, are far more complex than those for privately or company owned motor vehicles. An attorney who has experience with accidents involving emergency vehicles will be familiar with the rules and regulations pertaining to their safe operation. The attorney will determine the speed of the vehicles, the level of training of the fire truck driver and whether the driver employed reasonable and safe driving tactics. The lawyer will also investigate the traffic conditions and road conditions at the time of the accident and even determine the degree and direction of the sun. Any witnesses will be located to provide statements and scrutinize the police report. If you were involved in an accident with any emergency vehicle, do not attempt to battle the city, county or state government alone.
Vititoe Law Group has come to the defense of victims of accident involving all types of emergency vehicles, fire trucks included. Our investigative team has the resources to accurately reconstruct the accident scene and bring in expert witnesses.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in an accident with a fire truck or any emergency vehicle and believe the emergency vehicle was at fault, reach out to Vititoe Law Group today for a free evaluation of your case. Do not hesitate, as evidence becomes clouded and witnesses become increasingly difficult to find. You may be entitled to a cash award for medical bills, lost income as well as pain and suffering. There is no out of pocket cost to you and no obligation.