Calling an ambulance is almost always the first thing in a person’s mind in the face of an emergency. There is often that feeling of optimism and relief when it finally arrives, and the affected person is carried in and starts their journey to the emergency room.
Because of the time-sensitive nature of some injuries and illnesses, ambulances do not have to abide by the same rule as other drivers. When an ambulance has its sirens on and lights flashing, they have the right of way. Also, they can park on a roadway, run red lights, make a wrong turn or even drive on the wrong side. However, they can only do so when it is safe.
The Sad Reality
Not every driver responds to streetlights or sirens. If the ambulance driver assumes drivers will yield right of way, but they don’t, getting into an accident is inevitable. For most people, getting injured in an ambulance is the last thing on their minds. But the harsh reality is that ambulance accidents are likely and can result in more problems than a person had before getting into one.
According to the National Safety Council, 2020 saw 180 emergency vehicle-related fatalities, 5 percent of whom were passengers. Several factors make an ambulance-related accident likely to result in severe injuries.
One factor is the gurney design. Gurneys are designed to slide in and out to ease loading and unloading a patient. Although it is secured to the floor, it may not be as sturdy as a fixed seat, increasing its chances of coming off in an accident and causing devastating injuries. Also, paramedics may need to attend to a patient while in transit which puts those at a high risk of severe injuries should an ambulance get into an accident.
It Could Differ From Other Accidents
You could be eligible for compensation if you are hurt in an ambulance accident where the driver was at fault. However, the claims process can be pretty complicated because most ambulances are state-owned, and most states have immunity against lawsuits filed by their residents.
The statute of limitations for government entities may also differ from the statute of limitations for injuries caused by other entities, so you may want to make sure you know your state’s laws to ensure that you file your case on time. Letting a skilled lawyer handle your case while you focus on recovery is an excellent way to make the whole process less overwhelming.
What to Do After an Ambulance Accident
“It would be best to approach an ambulance accident like any other accident,” says car accident lawyer Felix Gonzalez, “The first thing will be to seek medical attention.”
Your first contact with a health provider will be at the accident scene when another ambulance arrives. It is always good to get checked out at the scene for new injuries because it can help distinguish injuries suffered in the previous accident from those sustained in the new one.
Documenting the accident scene is also important because it can help offer your lawyer a clear picture of the scene, which is critical if they need to reconstruct the accident. The best way of documenting the scene would be to take photographs or video footage using your phone camera. If your injuries can’t allow it, you can leave all evidence collection to your lawyer and the police that come to the scene.