Posted on June 29, 2010 in Automobile Accidents
Hit By A Police Car Or Emergency Vehicle California Law – What to Do?
It is common misconception that emergency vehicles are an exception to car accident law. They aren’t. But some victims of emergency vehicle accidents never investigate or seek out legal advice when they are injured or damaged by an emergency vehicle. In doing so, they forego their legal rights as drivers and pedestrians on California roads.
Emergency vehicles do receive additional protection under California law, but they are not always exempt. To be clear, an emergency vehicle is one that is a publicly owned and licensed vehicle responding to an emergency. Among others, this includes police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks.
Under California law, an emergency vehicle must also meet certain other conditions to receive protection: it must be responding to a real and present emergency, it must activate its siren, and its lights should be flashing. If not all of these conditions are met, the agency responsible for the emergency vehicle and the employee can be held liable.
Even if it meet the terms of California law, an emergency vehicle has a legal responsibility to keep the roads safe for anyone else at all times. Emergency vehicle drivers are expected to exercise what is known as a "reasonable standard of care." Anything not meeting that standard is negligence. Although speeding may be necessary to reach an emergency destination on time, driving wildly or maliciously is not. Depending on the case, you may be eligible for financial compensation by the agency in charge of the emergency vehicle.
What to do?
If you are the victim of an emergency vehicle accident, there are several steps you will be advised to take. Most of these steps are similar with those advised for all car accidents, whereas others are unique only to emergency vehicle accidents.
1. Get Information About The Car Accident. Record the time, date, and any other pertinent details about the accident. Talk to any witnesses that may be present. If possible, grab the license plate or identification number of the emergency vehicle involved.
2. Get Medical Help. Like any other accident, safety is most important. If injured, get to a hospital as soon as possible. For legal purposes, consulting a hospital or doctor can also be important to document and make you aware of your injuries.
3. File an Accident Report. According to California law, you must file an accident report if there was more than $750 in damage or anyone was injured. It is also important that you have documented the accident. Even if the emergency vehicle is not liable for your injuries, you will need to have an accident report to ensure coverage from your insurance.
4. File a Claim with the Agency. The agency operating the emergency vehicle should have procedures for dealing with accidents. Filing a claim is a necessary step before any legal action can be taken – the law also requires that a claim be filed within six months of the accident.
Being hit by a police car or emergency vehicle can be disconcerting. Often the most helpful thing to do in these cases is contact a California personal injury attorney. Not only will an attorney be more knowledgeable about current emergency vehicle accident law, he will be able to handle legal action if your case cannot be resolved out of court.
California personal injury lawyer discusses the issues surrounding cases where a police or emergency vehicle has been involved in. There are many complex issues surrounding government immunities and laws that may prevent an individual from filing a claim, but it is not a complete bar.