The Flying Ambulance

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Q: I was being carried in an ambulance that was owned by the Town.  In the same lane ahead of it was a dump truck – owned by a company without insurance that has gone bankrupt.  My ambulance swerved to avoid the truck and collided with a tree.  I am told that, suddenly, the dump truck had made a left turn into our lane.

A: Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1104, the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when involved in an emergency operation, may exercise certain privileges.  Under the right conditions, your ambulance driver may stop, stand or park in an otherwise impermissible way, proceed past a red signal or a stop sign, exceed the maximum speed limits and disregard various regulations.

But your driver must sound the siren.  And even if his siren is sounded, nevertheless he remains under a general duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and not to engage in reckless disregard for the safety of others.

Presumably, your driver will testify that he was faced with an emergency situation not of his own making when the dump truck made a sudden turn into your lane, and that he had only seconds to react.

To prevail against the Town, your case is strongest if the siren was off.  In that case, your driver could have none of the privileges conferred by Section 1104.  Even if the siren was on, your attorney will argue that the driver did in fact have sufficient time to appreciate what was happening and to respond to the risk of a collision.  Nevertheless, he failed to use reasonable care to avoid the collision, so that the Town is liable.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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