Drivers of emergency vehicles are afforded some sort of immunity
Drivers of emergency vehicles are afforded some sort of immunity from vehicular accidents that result to personal injuries. Emergency vehicles include ambulances and police cars are more prone to car crashes when the drivers are responding to calls of emergency from dispatchers and most of the time, serious injuries arise from these as they are more likely to involve high-speed collisions. Our expert explains that an emergency vehicle driver who gets figured in a car crash is governed under the vehicular and traffic laws 1104, wherein his actions must be qualified and that he must not be found to be more than negligent to be able to be exempted from being liable to his victim's injuries.
This is an example of a car accident case involving a police car and another vehicle as reviewed by one of our top Attorneys. On February 4, 2011, the Milim couple, Steven and Susan (Plaintiffs), was stopped along an intersection in Suffolk County behind two vehicles, while traveling northbound and waiting for the red traffic light to change. Finally, at the turn of the green light, the two cars moved forward and just as Steven Milim was about to pull up, a spinning police car slammed onto his left side which made their SUV spin 360 degrees.
According to Steven, the impact was so great that it could be described as something exploding inside the car. In his testimony prior to the trial, Steven Milim also claimed that he did not see the car because he kept his eyes on the road ahead, anticipating the traffic light to turn to green. He only came to realize that the police car was going to slam against their car when his wife, Susan motioned for him to watch out for the incoming spinning police vehicle. Moreover, Steven said that it was a cold, wet day for driving. In Susan Milim's testimony, she stated that the police car was out of control spinning at an estimated speed of about 70 mph.
The Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment on account of the defendants' libability for injuries that they sustained claimed that the driver was negligent. To answer the claim, the Defendants, Roger Chin and Suffolk County Police Department filed a motion to reverse the Plaintiffs' claim and stated that they were injured because of Steven Milim's negligence and carelessness. Then, the Plaintiffs' filed another motion to counter the Defendants' claims against Steven Milim's negligence and insisted that he acted prudently and was not the one responsible for the collision. The Defendants further filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the Plaintiffs' complaint based on the "Reckless Disregard Standard", which according to his counsel, exempts him from being liable for the injuries that the Plaintiffs sustained.
"Reckless Disregard Standard" applies to all emergency drivers who act to do something while being aware of the hazard of the action and ignoring any possibility of causing injuries or risking other people's lives. It does not imply that Roger Chin intended to cause harm but it is a more severe intent than to be ordinarily negligent. The Plaintiffs must prove that Roger Chin acted in with reckless disregard for their lives when he did not slow down and collided with their vehicle in that Suffolk intersection. However, if it was found that Roger Chin acted prudently and thought about other people's safety before his while responding to an emergency, then he may be excused from being liable to injuries caused by suddenly stopping, disregarding stop signals, going beyond the speed limit and violating traffic directions and turning. According to our source, this law is a controversial because it permits emergency vehicle drivers to disregard rules without thinking about other people's welfare since they will be protected by the law.
Our study further states that several other witnesses reported what they have seen from the accident. Paula Rizzo claimed that she had witnessed the accident and that it was sunny and the road condition was dry. She also stated that she was driving on the southbound lane and she came to a stop when the traffic light on her lane turned red. While she was stopped and waiting for the traffic light to change, she noticed the police vehicle from her rearview mirror and that it was traveling so fast she noticed it because of the gunning engine that sounded like a race car. She saw the car and thought that it was going too fast and estimated that it was running at 45-50 mph, it passed to her right and avoided a vehicle turning left from the intersection until it collided with the Milim's SUV. Rizzo also said she didn't hear any screeching brakes and that the Plaintiff's car was stopped and was also about to move. She also stated that the police car didn't have its emergency lights or siren on when it crossed the intersection.
Another witness, Darren Hughes testified that he has seen the accident while he was driving northbound. He testified that the police car was coming very fast and was "flying". He stated that the police car collided with the car behind him and that the impact was so tremendous that it sent the SUV flying backwards and spinning a full 360. Furthermore, he said that the weather during the time was mild with some snow melting but did not notice if the road was wet or slippery. He also said that the police car did not have its light on and the driver did not certainly slow down when he approached the intersection. Gay Bullock, another witness whose car was behind the Plaintiffs when the accident happened testified that the police car did not have siren, lights and did not honk to announce its approach.
Finally, Roger Chin, the defendant gave his testimony and he stated that he has been in service as a policeman in Suffolk County Police Department for 11 years and that during the time of the accident he was assigned in the COPE unit where he wasn't assigned to a specific area but was on duty to receive emergency calls via the radio. He said that he did not recall accepting an emergency call and the only thing that he remembered was waking up in the Emergency Room. He had no recollection of the incident and did not know if he used his service vehicle's siren. He also failed to account the weather condition during that time and he reckoned that the speed limit in that area where he crashed was 30 mph. To support his testimony, Sgt. Kevin McKeon stated in his affidavit that there was a report of robbery in a nearby store and Roger Chin, the Defendant, responded to that emergency. By doing so, the Defendant may be entitled to the benefits of the law protecting him from any litigation that may arise from car accidents while responding to an emergency. The Defendants and their counsel claimed that Chin was responding to a police call concerning a robbery in progress and that the Plaintiffs did not submit an affidavit questioning this fact. Therefore, he may be afforded the benefits of the vehicle and traffic law 1104. This is the case in Long Island and Manhattan.
Following the parties' and the witnesses' accounts, it was concluded that the Milim SUV was not moving when it was hit by Roger Chin's service vehicle, in addition, it has also been revealed that Roger Chin did not turn on his emergency lights or siren before approaching the intersection and while responding to the robbery. Our Attorney explains that the Defendant must prove that he did not cause the emergency and he must also provide legitimate excuses for going over the speed limit and hitting the Plaintiffs' SUV. However, Chin, Suffolk County Police Department and their counsel failed to submit the required evidences to substantiate this and consequently, were unable to convince the court that the accident was not Roger Chin's fault, thus, their claims against Steven Milim's negligence was dismissed. Also, the motion of the Plaintiffs rebutting the issue of Steven Milim's negligence in driving was granted. Furthermore, the Defendants' did not submit proof to maintain that Chin did not act with "Reckless Disregard" for other people's safety, thus their motion for summary judgment on account of the "Reckless Disregard Standard" was dismissed.
Accordingly, as explained by our expert, the Plaintiffs were able to provide evidences that Roger Chin acted indifferently during the time of the accident and proceeded to drive carelessly, which caused the Plaintiffs to sustain injuries. Although it was apparent that as an emergency driver, Roger Chin was protected by the law, he must have been able to explain the reason for his speed as he was approaching the intersection, he must have thought about whether he was putting the life of civilians and their property in danger, he must have driven with cautioned and signaled on his approach to the intersection and must have slowed down when noticed the possibility of collision, an dhe must not have created the emergency situation. All of these were not demonstrated or provided by the Defendants and their counsel, therefore, the Court denied their second motion for summary judgment.
Then the Plaintiffs asked to be compensated for loss of wages since Steven Milim was a medical doctor and employed an economist or an expert to estimate the cost of his losses. The Defendants sought an order to make the Plaintiffs submit all the necessary documents that disclosed their losses from payments of medical bills and insurance contracts. However, the Defendant's counsel claims that the information on the cost of his lost wages was not provided prior to the Notice for Discovery and that they are not liable for it. However, the Court ruled that the Plaintiffs provided all the information, documents, reports and the discovery demands of the Defendants and that they are liable to compensate the Milims for the costs that they incurred during the ordeal.
Here we can see that even with the protection of the law, public servants may be liable in car accidents if they are found to have reckless disregard for other people's safety. The Plaintiffs were awarded the proper compensation and litigation because their claims were laid out in an organized and truthful manner. Stephen Bilkis and Associates will provide you with the same care and assistance for your car accident litigation needs. Our New York Auto Accident Lawyers will make sure that your rights will be protected against individuals who caused you injuries and a lot of trouble. Moreover, do not get intimidated in asking to be compensated by institutions and a public servant especially if you know that you only acted based on what is right. To help you with these kinds of cases, our NY Personal Injury Lawyers will hear you out and determine the most appropriate solution to your case. Call us now.