Everyone knows, when you see or hear an emergency vehicle rushing to the scene of an accident or crime, you must yield right of way, so as not to interfere with the vehicle. It is also true an emergency vehicle is allowed to run red traffic signals when traveling to its destination, assuming it is responding to a valid call. However, this does not give the operator of an emergency vehicle the right to drive in a negligent and dangerous manner or use its emergency equipment, including lights and sirens, when there is no valid emergency situation.
This is exactly what some plaintiffs are alleging in a series of cases recently filed in South Carolina, according to a news article for the Charleston Post and Courier. In one of the cases, plaintiff’s attorneys have alleged a North Charleston fire truck was on its way to a car crash at speeds of up to 25 mph over the posted speed limit of 45 mph. Traveling 70 mph in an area with a posted speed limit of 45 mph is unnecessarily fast and dangerous, according to plaintiff’s car accident lawyers.
Authorities reported, while traveling at this extremely high rate of speed, the fire truck pulled into the median on the side of the roadway to get around traffic. While traveling at 70 mph in the median, the fire truck allegedly hit a victim riding on a bicycle.
Following this fatal bicycle and truck collision, South Carolina State Police conducted a vehicle crash investigation, and they concluded the only person at fault in the accident was the 39-year-old bicyclist, because he was not legally allowed to ride his bike in the paved median alongside the roadway.
However, plaintiff’s attorney, representing decedent’s estate administered by his daughter, alleges this was not actually what happened and is challenging the official accident report as part of a civil wrongful death action. He alleges the fire truck was operating at an unsafe speed, traveled through the median, and actually traveled into the lane of oncoming traffic when it negligently collided with and killed bicycle rider.
It should be noted, the allegations outlined in plaintiff’s complaint are simply claims made by one party in a civil lawsuit, and neither a judge nor jury has found defendant liable at this time.
As our Spartanburg, South Carolina car crash lawyers can explain, when filing a lawsuit against a municipality, there are additional complications that may come into play. One of those complications is what is known as the doctrine of sovereign immunities. In certain situations, a municipal, state, or federal government can claim certain immunities to liability on civil negligence claims, or there may be a statutory cap on damages. However, there are various exceptions the doctrine of sovereign immunities, such as a claim government was acting in a proprietary rather than sovereign capacity.
While this can create additional complications, it does not mean you do not have a valid case. However, it does mean that if you have a potential case against a local, state, or federal government, you should make sure your attorney has experience handling these types of lawsuits and is familiar with how to address this particular issue.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Charleston-area crashes involving speeding fire truck, police cars spark lawsuits , May 19, 2015, Post and Courier
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Combs v. NC Division of Motor Vehicles – DUI License Revocation Upheld, Even as Criminal Case Tossed, Feb. 24, 2015, Spartanburg, South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog