DO I NEED A LOCAL RHODE ISLAND AMBULANCE ACCIDENT LAWYER?
In situations in which seconds or milliseconds can be the difference between life or death, often times ambulances are instrumental in proving vital assistance and transporting critically injured persons to the nearest hospital. Transporting critically injured persons to hospitals in a matter of minutes and seconds commonly means that ambulance drivers will weave through traffic, run stop signs and red lights, exceed posted speed limits, and engage in dangerous driving.
The unpredictable and aggressive driving maneuvers of ambulance drivers – and the reactions from the drivers that they share the road with – result in vulnerable situations for surrounding persons that often lead to accidents. Unfortunately, and ironically, aggressive ambulance driving can actually cause additional injuries, rather than help those who were initially the focus of the ambulance call.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an ambulance accident, you are likely dealing with a variety of issues that make life more difficult. In addition to the physical injuries, you may be dealing with a loss of income, mounting bills and medical expenses, and insurance companies.
As such, an ambulance accident case can be complicated and should be handled by an experienced and skilled team of attorneys. Obtaining local legal representation can give you the time you need to heal physically and emotionally while still ensuring that you will be able to receive just legal compensation for your losses.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM AFTER HIRING AN AMBULANCE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY?
So, you have been injured in an accident involving an ambulance and need an attorney to fight for you. Here is what you should expect:
- Your lawyer should see you in person, whether at the office, your home, or the hospital.
- Gather evidence about the accident, how it happened, and who may be responsible.
- Determine the party or parties who may be liable.
- Figure out what your case is worth.
- Negotiate with the other parties or their attorneys.
- File a lawsuit if need be.
- Build a case for settlement or trial, depending on your needs.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT AMBULANCE ACCIDENT CASES?
While car accident cases are relatively straightforward, determining liability in an ambulance accident can be a bit more complex. There are often times multiple factors that lead up to an accident involving an ambulance and there can be multiple vehicles who share in liability for an accident. Additionally, the very nature of what ambulances are designated and authorized to do can impact the outcome of a case.
Emergency vehicles such as ambulances are designated and authorized to respond to emergencies that are defined as “a situation that poses an immediate risk to health or life.” Ambulances are often large, heavy, and are equipped with lights and sirens that in theory help negotiate traffic and minimize travel time.
When responding to an emergency call, ambulance drivers are given a “code 3 running” option. A “code 3 running” is defined as the use of warning lights and sirens, and drivers may be permitted to exceed speed limits and cross against stop signs and red lights. However, the implementation of this policy varies, depending on the ambulance’s standard operating procedures and variations on state traffic laws and regulations. Ambulance driving is also characterized by time pressure, stressful driving conditions, and multi-tasking activities, all of which may lead to distracted driving and ultimately ambulance accidents.
Navigating the complex issues that will arise out of an ambulance accident requires the expertise of an experienced ambulance accident attorney to handle your case properly. This includes the handling of all communications with the ambulance company’s attorneys and/or the insurance companies, ensuring that the correct documents are filed properly and timely, and vigorously advocating in negotiations and/or litigation is necessary, to secure your full and fair compensation for the injuries you or your loved one has suffered.
WHAT ARE COMMON CAUSES OF AMBULANCE ACCIDENTS?
Unlike car accidents, ambulance accidents occur less frequently (largely due to there are less of them on the road). But similar to car accidents, there are instances in which preventable negligence can cause or contribute to ambulance accidents. Some of the contributory causes of ambulance accidents fall into one of these common categories.
- Ambulance Driver Negligence: Due to their roles in responding to and transporting injured persons to hospitals, ambulances are authorized to travel at excessive speeds, swerve in and out of traffic, and perform maneuvers that be traffic violations for ordinary motorists. This, however, does not mean that ambulance drivers are exempt from taking reasonable safety precautions to avoid causing danger situations for others on the road or sidewalk. Ambulance driver negligence that can cause accidents include:
- Failure to activate emergency lights and/or sirens
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication
- Driver fatigue
- Other Driver Negligence: Passenger vehicle driver and commercial drivers can also cause ambulance accidents through their negligent actions including:
- Failure to yield or pull over for ambulances that are operating with activated sirens and lights
- Failure to abide by traffic laws (such as speeding, running stop signs, etc.) in the presence of an ambulance.
- Ambulance Operator (Company) Negligence: Companies that own and operate ambulances and employ ambulance drivers may be liable for ambulance accidents in situations where the ambulance operator:
- Fails to properly train its ambulance drivers
- Fails to service and maintain its ambulances
- Employs or hires drivers with a history of traffic related convictions
- Weather conditions: New England is known for inclement and rapidly changing weather. An ambulance driver attempting to drive through hazardous weather when it simply is not safe to do so may be liable in the event of an accident.
WHAT DAMAGES ARE AVAILABLE TO VICTIMS OF AMBULANCE ACCIDENTS?
Like virtually every type of case, all ambulance accidents cases are different and there is a lot that goes into determining the value of a case and each case has its own particular facts and circumstances. Depending on your case you may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages.
- Medical expenses, including past, present, and future bills
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages, both from missed work and missed future earning potential
- Household bills
- Damage to your vehicle or property
- Rental Vehicles
- Transportation costs
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety and post-traumatic stress (emotional distress)
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Lifestyle impairment
In the most tragic cases ambulance accidents can result in death. Of course there is no amount of money that can bring a loved one back or fill the void left by their absence. Nevertheless, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
At Marin and Barrett, Inc., our RI ambulance accident injury attorneys will fight for every dollar you deserve. On these types of cases it is often helpful to work closely with expert witnesses to ensure that your injuries and damages are valued fully. This extra effort makes sure that you recover all you are entitled to for your injuries.