Fire trucks are among a class of emergency vehicles that, in the event of life-threatening situations, are legally empowered to race through traffic to get to their destinations. While this fact is no surprise to any driver who has had to pull over due to the sound of approaching fire truck sirens, what may be shocking is the fact that these emergency vehicles themselves are getting into serious, and many times fatal crashes while en route.
In fact, a number of districts throughout the U.S., including Boston, Baltimore, and the District of Colombia, are reporting that the incidence of these crashes is on the rise. In the District of Colombia, fire truck accidents occur as frequently as twice weekly.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a fire truck crash, or if a loved one has died in this type of traffic accident, you will likely have a legal claim and be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses. Learn more about your legal rights and get free expert advice regarding how to proceed with your case by attending a complimentary initial consultation with one of our highly qualified fire truck accident attorneys. Our accident lawyers are committed to aggressively representing victims’ rights in an effort to help them win the maximum possible compensation.
Firetruck Accidents and Injuries
Many cities across the country have experienced an increase in the number of firetruck accidents in recent years. Increasing traffic, better soundproofing in cars, and the traditional “right of way” laws for emergency vehicles all play a role in the number of firetruck accidents. Because of the size of the emergency vehicles and the speeds at which they are usually traveling, firetruck accidents can cause serious damage to any vehicles they strike, severely injuring or even killing the occupants.
Causes of Fire Truck Accidents
As with other types of traffic accidents, fire truck collisions may occur for a variety of reasons, including the recklessness of firefighters anxious to get to the emergency, as well as the carelessness, negligence, or recklessness of other drivers on the road. Specifically, factors that can contribute to or worsen fire truck accidents include:
- Debris or pedestrians in the road
- Driver fatigue, inexperience, distraction, or intoxication
- Failure of other drivers to pull over when they hear fire engine sirens
- Poor weather and/or road conditions
- Vehicle equipment failures, such as tire blowouts or brake failure
Because fire trucks are large, heavy vehicles that are typically rushing at high speeds, when they do have an accident, it is highly likely that at least one fatality will occur, particularly when other drivers or pedestrians are involved. In fact, in 2008, 25 percent of firefighters who were killed on duty died in traffic crashes. truck accident lawyers.
New Guidelines Issued to Prevent Firetruck Accidents
In Los Angeles, the number of firetruck accidents has become such a cause for concern that the LA Fire Department has issued new guidelines for drivers, including a speed limit. The hope is that firetruck accidents will be less likely if the drivers of firetrucks learn to drive more cautiously, rather than assuming that other drivers will simply get out of the way in time. Other cities are considering similar measures.
Firetruck accidents can occur because emergency vehicle operators fail to drive with “due regard to safety” as mandated by traffic laws. Many firetruck accidents occur while the trucks are operating at high speeds, on their way to an emergency call. Department policy states that drivers of firetrucks are allowed to use their own discretion, traveling at any speed they deem safe, but in an attempt to prevent firetruck accidents, the drivers are also required to stop at all red lights and stop signs, and to wait for traffic to clear before proceeding with caution. Many firetruck accidents occur when drivers fail to follow these guidelines, and the damage can be devastating.
Recent Examples of Fire Truck Accidents in the U.S.
- In December 2019, a New York pedestrian was killed when a fire truck ran her down
- In December 2019 in Kansas, two passengers were killed when the intoxicated driver of the passenger car crashed into a fire truck
- In December 2019 in Missouri, four adults and one child were critically injured when the driver of the van they were in ran a red light and drove into the side of a fire truck
- In August 2019, a Phoenix Fire Department Captain was killed when she was ejected out of the fire truck as a result of another vehicle running into the side of the truck
- In January 2019, a Boston firefighter was killed (and four civilians were severely injured) when the fire truck ran into an apartment building due to brake failure
Seeking Compensation After A Firetruck Accident
If you or someone you love has been involved in a firetruck accident, you have legal rights and may be entitled to recover the funds associated with your injuries or property damage. Firetruck accidents may be handled differently depending upon whether the fire company in question was a city department, a volunteer unit, unionized or not, etc. The local laws pertaining to firetruck accidents and the operation of emergency vehicles can play a large role in how a case is filed and decided. A personal injury attorney who has experience representing victims of firetruck accidents will be able to help you decide what the best legal route to take would be.