Fire Truck Causes Serious Car Wreck
When a Lexington Fire Department vehicle made a sudden and unexpected U-turn in traffic, a trailing SUV crashed into the truck, injuring at least one person in a car wreck.
According to witnesses and authorities, the fire truck was running in emergency mode (siren on and lights flashing) near the intersection of Broadway and Judy Lane. When the crew received a dispatch call redirecting the unit to another location, the driver apparently made an unsignaled U-turn to change directions. At that moment, an SUV travelling behind the fire truck could not safely stop, and it smashed into the fire truck. The driver, whose name was not released, was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.
The vehicle was also seriously damaged in the car wreck.
Liability in Car Wreck Cases
Former U.S. President Harry Truman once pined for a one-armed economist, because he grew tired of his advisers saying “on the one hand” this could happen but “on the other hand” the result could be different. Legal questions are much the same as economic ones in this regard, because a seemingly simple question like “who was at fault for the car wreck” often has multiple and seemingly contradictory responses.
With apologies to the late President, on the one hand, the fire truck driver might be responsible for the above-described crash. While emergency responders do not have to follow most “rules of the road” when they are in emergency mode, such as speed limits and stop signs, their immunity is not unlimited. If they operate with extreme recklessness and disregard the safety of other motorists, first responders may be considered as tortfeasors (negligent drivers). Radically changing speeds and making a sudden lane change amidst busy traffic arguably qualifies as extreme recklessness.
Then again, on the other hand, the SUV driver could be responsible, under the principle of negligence per se (negligence “as such”). This theory applies if:
- A driver violates a safety statute, and
- That violation caused the car wreck.
In this particular instance, it appears that the SUV driver may have violated the Move-Over law, which requires motorists to fall back at least 500 feet from first responder vehicles en route to emergency situations.
In many car wreck cases, the victim and the tortfeasor are partially responsible. So,in a hypothetical trial, the jury could conclude that the fire truck driver made a dangerous illegal U-turn and the SUV driver did not obey the Move-Over law. Kentucky has a victim-friendly pure comparative fault law, so in these situations, the judge apportions damages based solely on the percentage of fault. So, even if the jury determined that the SUV driver was 99 percent responsible for the car wreck, the victim would still recover a proportional amount of damages.
Car wrecks often involve complicated legal questions that only an experienced personal injury lawyer in Franklin, like Attorney Gary S. Logsdon, can sort out. Contact us today for prompt assistance, because you have a limited amount of time to act.