As you know, ambulance drivers save lives across the United States, bringing services to those in their most desperate of times. Many ambulance drivers find themselves, at some point, in a situation where they must speed off to their destination to save a life. This puts them in an entirely difficult situation, as they must navigate roads and past vehicles. However, despite this fact, they must still keep a duty of care in mind as they are doing so, remembering that they share the roadways with other motor vehicle operators. If you have been injured in an accident involving an ambulance, you may wonder what rights and options you have. Sustaining injuries in one of these unique, sometimes-devastating situations can change your outlook and make you ask many questions.
In 2010 alone, there were over 250 ambulance crashes across the U.S. Every single day in our country, there are upwards of 50,000 ambulances on the road, responding to thousands of calls that are made. Unfortunately, there is no set way to find out exactly how many of these accidents occur every year, which means that there are probably some that do not meet the eye. Of accidents happening in 2010, four ambulance crewmembers were killed, as well as 9 civilians. Many patients and drivers of other vehicles were injured, suffering injuries on minor and severe levels like bumps and bruises, to threatening wounds.
Factors Leading to Accidents
There are many factors that lead to these unique accidents. According to data, 43% of crashes occurred where two or more roads cross. Here are some of the major factors that contribute to these accidents:
· In about half of these accidents, ambulances were hit by vehicles when trying to go through the intersection.
· Sometimes, ambulances were trying to travel against red lights, leading to disastrous results.
· Many more incidents involved loss of control of ambulances. This could be due to many reasons, such as running off the road or failing to negotiate corners.
· Excessive speed also tends to be a contributing factor, because ambulances must sometimes travel at fast speeds to save lives. However, this can also lead to risks for others.
· Road conditions could also be at play, with rain and snow contributing in many cases.
· Lastly, rear-end collisions occur when ambulances strike other cars when they are stopped in traffic. (1)
Injuries and Injury Liability
Unfortunately, if you have been injured in one of these accidents, you have probably sustained minor to life-threatening injuries and are looking to receive compensation. You may have sustained injuries like that of the spinal cord, severe burns, back injuries, amputations, fractures, facial injuries, and much more. When you have been injured, you may wonder who will be held liable.
In some cases, the driver or the company may be to blame. In many states, there is something known as state immunity for emergency personnel when accidents occur. However, if you can prove that the ambulance driver was operating the vehicle negligently, they will be held liable and owe you damages in court. Negligence can occur if a patient is injured because they were not strapped in correctly or if the driver of another vehicle was struck out of the negligent reasons mentioned prior.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a negligent ambulance driver, you may wonder what damages you could receive for the accident at hand. Here are some of these damages, explained:
· Medical Expenses: If you were injured in an accident, it is possible to walk away with only a few minor scrapes and bruises. However, you could also receive very serious injuries like paralysis or permanent disabilities. It is important to seek treatment after your ambulance-related accident. The medical expenses you can expect may cover thing like physical therapy, ambulance fees, consultations with professionals, crutches, permanent disability, in-home services, and more. Whatever the cost, it will probably be covered.
· Pain and Suffering: These damages may be prevalent when you receive mental or physical distress after an injury. It depends on how serious your injury is and the pain you suffer now and in the future. It may include things like emotional distress and the effect it has on your life. Every state handles these damages differently.
· Lost Wages: Injuries from ambulance accidents may cause you to lose earning capacity. You may have an inability to work because of your injuries and so you must prove this to the court. (2)
There are many more damages you may expect in these circumstances. The best thing that you can do is speak to an experienced attorney about your options in regards to the compensation you will receive and what it can cover.
Statute of Limitations on California Cases
Typically, when you are injured by another in California, the law requires you to file your personal injury claim within two year’s time. However, the statute of limitations involving the government (in this case, accidents involving ambulances) is made with an administrative claim and you only have 6 months to file on behalf of the incident. If your claim is denied, you can file your lawsuit in court; however, there are strict deadlines and you must always ensure you are filing against the correct agency. (3) Because these cases can be entirely complicated and leave you with little options or time, you should have an experienced attorney on your side that deals with these unique personal injury cases and can lend a hand in your time of need. We will help you meet the strict requirements set under California law so you recover from your ambulance accident after you have been injured. Call us today at A.G. Assanti & Associates for more information.