Who Is Responsible for Accidents Involving an Emergency Vehicle?

When an emergency vehicle approaches with its lights and sirens on, we need to move out of the way as quickly and as safely as possible so they can get by. However, we can't always accomplish this.

So, what happens if you don't move out of the way in time or you don't see the emergency vehicle approaching at all?

A Fair Amount of Leeway

Emergency vehicles in Florida have a bit of leeway regarding the traffic laws when they are on their way to an emergency call. Emergency vehicles, per Florida law, can run through red lights and stop signs after slowing down and showing a certain level of caution and safety. Emergency vehicles can also exceed the posted speed limit during a call as long as no one is endangered, and property is not damaged.

Responsibility as a Driver

As drivers, we need to be aware of flashing lights and sirens and yield the right of way to emergency vehicles on the roadway. So, when you see those lights or hear sirens, pull over as close to the curb as you can to clear the intersection for the emergency vehicles to get through and remain stopped until they safely pass by. This is called Florida's Move Over law.

The Penalties

You can be cited with a traffic violation if you fail to slow down or attempt to move over as emergency vehicles approach. The penalty for this can be as high as a $500 fine and three points added to your license. Your license could also be suspended after accumulating too many points.

Liability for Accidents

If you obey the Move Over law but are still struck by an emergency vehicle, who is liable for the accident and the damages? If you followed the law and were struck, you may be entitled to compensation after filing a legal claim.

If the emergency vehicle failed to slow down before running through a red light or stop sign or endangered life or property when exceeding the speed limit and these caused the accident, they might be liable.

Even if you are partially responsible for the accident, you may still be eligible for compensation under Florida's comparative fault rule. This rule allows those who contributed to the accident to still file for compensation. However, the reward amount will be reduced according to their percentage of fault in the accident.

If you have been involved in an accident with an emergency vehicle, you should discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney because these cases can become quite complicated. They will guide you through the process and fill you in on the best way to proceed with your claim.

Avoiding a Collision

To avoid a collision with an emergency vehicle and to avoid the stress, frustration, and confusion that can come alongside this type of personal injury case, there are a few things you can do as a driver. When driving, slow down and carefully change lanes when you see an emergency vehicle approaching. If you pull over too quickly, you can cause an accident with another vehicle or even a pedestrian.

If the emergency vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction and there is no median, you should still pull over to the side of the road safely until the emergency vehicle has passed.
Since these accidents are not like others, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with car accident cases in Florida.