Whilst we assume emergency vehicle drivers know how to drive safely at high speeds and in high pressure situations, like any motorist, these drivers can sometimes cause collisions. In 2021, the Texas Department of Transportation reported 55,634 total crashes in Dallas, the second-highest crash total compared to all Texas counties. How many of these crashes were emergency-vehicle related is not specified.
Available data from the National Safety Council reports there were 180 deaths caused by emergency-vehicle collisions in the United States in 2020, however, this is not broken down by state or county. Police vehicles accounted for the highest proportion of these accidents, causing 132 deaths. This was likely due to the larger number of police vehicles on the roads, as well as the high-speed pursuits that police engage in.
If you or a loved one is injured in an emergency vehicle accident in Dallas, and another person is at fault, The Lenahan Law Firm can navigate the complex legal framework and help fight for you.
Emergency vehicles in Dallas must abide by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Title 36 allows authorized emergency vehicles in emergency situations to disregard traffic control devices, exceed the speed limit, and obstruct traffic. However, the driver must still operate “with due regard for the safety of persons and property.” The Texas Transportation Code contains similar provisions.
A person injured in a collision caused by another passenger vehicle generally obtains compensation by filing an insurance claim or suing the at-fault party in negligence. But where the at-fault party is a government agency, options for recourse are limited due to “sovereign immunity” protecting most government agencies from legal action.
In Dallas, the Texas Torts Claims Act applies, where emergency vehicle drivers are immune from legal action for damage they cause whilst responding to an emergency, provided they obey “the laws and ordinances applicable to emergency action.” Where no laws apply, the agency can only be liable where the driver showed “conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others.”
Accidents involving ambulances add another level of complication, as these can be publicly or privately owned, affecting the legal action an injured party can take, and the applicable laws.
The risk of police vehicles causing accidents is particularly pronounced during pursuits when a police officer is chasing a fleeing driver or pedestrian. Given the high speed involved in and the erratic movements the perpetrator often takes to try to evade capture, innocent motorists can easily become the victim of a police car crash.
In these instances, if the officer’s actions caused the collision and their actions did not comply with applicable emergency laws, or they showed a conscious disregard for your safety, you may be able to take legal action against the relevant police department.
Receiving compensation after any accident can be difficult. Even more barriers arise where the at-fault party was driving an emergency vehicle.
If you are involved in an emergency-vehicle collision in Dallas, call The Lenahan Law Firm immediately so our team can ensure you obtain the necessary evidence to support your claim, including the vehicle’s number plate, the driver’s contact details, a police report, and witness statements. We can also fight to obtain evidence in the other party’s possession, such as dash-cam footage and log reports.
The skilled car accident attorneys at The Lenahan Law Firm will pursue all available avenues for you to receive compensation after an emergency-vehicle crash in Dallas. Call us today at (214) 295-1008 to speak to our skilled team.