Do you need a Philadelphia emergency vehicle accident lawyer? If so, one of the attorneys working with The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia may be able to help you.
Ambulances, police cars, and other types of first-responder vehicles need to drive quickly and disregard normal traffic rules in order to address unfolding emergencies as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this sometimes places other road users at risk of getting involved in serious accidents.
Because of their size and speed, ambulances, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles tend to cause a lot of damage when they get involved in collisions. If you’ve been injured in a crash like this, you should schedule a consultation with an emergency vehicle accident lawyer to discuss your potential right to compensation.
How Accidents With Emergency Vehicles Happen
According to statistics from the National Safety Council (NSC), 198 deaths resulted from accidents involving emergency vehicles in 2021. Most of these accident victims (81%) were either pedestrians or occupants of non-emergency vehicles.
The report noted that police vehicles were, by far, the most common type of emergency vehicles involved in deadly crashes; they were in crashes causing 135 of the 198 recorded deaths. The study also found that 72% of the deaths that occurred in these situations happened in multi-vehicle accidents, rather than single-vehicle collisions.
How an Emergency Vehicle Accident Lawyer From The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia Can Help You
After you get involved in a Philadelphia emergency vehicle accident, you should make contact with a lawyer as soon as possible. Only an expert legal consultation will properly position you to recover the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
When you visit an emergency vehicle accident lawyer from The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia for a free initial consultation, you’ll learn right away whether you’re likely to have a viable lawsuit on your hands. If you do, we’ll get to work on building your case right away.
For us, this process begins with an investigation into the circumstances of the accident. We’ll visit the scene of the collision to learn what we can there, and seek any police reports that may be of value as well. We’ll also liaise with any medical professionals you visited following your crash.
After we file a lawsuit on your behalf, we’ll have opportunities to negotiate a potential settlement with the defendant (usually the agency responsible for the emergency vehicle you collided with). Most cases settle this way, as it’s easier, quicker, and more cost-effective for both parties than going to court. However, if there is too much disagreement between the two sides to resolve the dispute in this fashion, we’ll be prepared to take your case in front of a judge and jury.
Injuries That Commonly Arise From Emergency Vehicle Accidents
Because of the high speeds that are typically involved, as well as the fact that many emergency vehicles are much larger and heavier than passenger cars, emergency vehicle accidents often cause very serious injuries. In this section, we look at some of the injury types that commonly arise from these accidents.
Head and Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries are frequent outcomes of accidents involving emergency vehicles. These can range from concussions to more severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Symptoms can include loss of consciousness, memory issues, headaches, and — in severe cases — long-term cognitive impairment or disability.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal injuries range from whiplash (which causes pain, stiffness, and limited motion) to much more serious spinal cord issues that can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis. These types of injuries are quite common in serious car accidents.
The force exerted during a high-speed, heavy-impact car crash can easily result in severe bone fractures. More serious breaks require surgical intervention and very lengthy recovery periods; in the worst cases, victims never recover full mobility. Elderly victims, or those with pre-existing disabilities, are most at risk of lifelong issues related to bone fractures. The bones in the arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis are the most likely to be broken during high-speed collisions.
Internal injuries can be particularly dangerous because they are not always immediately apparent following an accident. These can include internal bleeding or damage to organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, or kidneys. Immediate medical attention is vital in these cases to prevent life-threatening complications.
Are Ambulance Accidents a Type of Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a cause of action that results from harm brought about by substandard health care. In other words, if a health care facility’s negligence causes you an illness or injury, you’ll have a medical malpractice suit on your hands.
You may be able to file a lawsuit like this against a paramedic or ambulance service if you suffered an injury while traveling in an ambulance. Say, for instance, you were hurt in a crash that occurred while your ambulance operator was driving recklessly. If your lawyer can show that the driver failed to properly discharge their duty of care to you, and that this failure caused you an injury or caused an existing health complaint to get worse, you should be entitled to compensation under the principles of medical malpractice.
At The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia, medical malpractice is among our specialties. If you’ve suffered an injury because of negligent care provided by an ambulance operator, paramedic, doctor, nurse, or any other type of health care professional, we can help you make things right.
Wrongful Death Suits Arising From Emergency Vehicle Accidents
If your spouse, parent, or child has died in an emergency vehicle accident, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. These lawsuits differ from other types of emergency vehicle claims in a number of important ways.
A wrongful death suit is brought by the deceased person’s estate or surviving family members, rather than the accident victim themselves. This means the available damages are different; wrongful death damages provide compensation for:
- The loss of the deceased’s companionship
- Financial support to replace lost household income
- Expenses related to medical care for the deceased person prior to their death
- Funeral expenses.
Additionally, the statute of limitations in wrongful death lawsuits is two years, compared to three years for other types of personal injury suits. This means you have two years from the date of the death (not the date of the accident) to file suit. If you allow this deadline to pass, you will generally lose your right to file a claim. This time limit is typically much shorter if you’re suing a public entity, as discussed below.
Challenges Related to Suing Public Entities
Lawsuits involving public entities, such as police departments, fire departments, or ambulance services, can pose unique challenges compared to ordinary personal injury cases. These include:
- Sovereign immunity: Public entities in Pennsylvania, like in many other states, enjoy a certain degree of sovereign immunity from lawsuits. This means that, in some cases, these organizations cannot be sued unless they’ve consented to the lawsuit. However, this does not apply to cases involving vehicle liability, which means it generally does not protect public bodies from lawsuits related to emergency vehicle accidents.
- Notice requirements: In Pennsylvania, you must provide notice of intent to sue a public entity within 30-180 days of the incident. This is a much shorter time frame than those set out under ordinary statutes of limitations.
- Damage caps: Even when a lawsuit against a public entity is successful, the amount of damages you can be awarded may be capped under Pennsylvania law.
It’s worth noting that the rules in this area may differ depending on whether you’re suing a state or municipal body. Because of these complexities, it’s important to consult with an emergency vehicle accident attorney who is familiar with cases involving public entities.
Contact Our Philadelphia Emergency Vehicle Accident Lawyer
Many of our clients that get involved in accidents with emergency vehicles feel uneasy about the prospect of filing a lawsuit. They think that, because their accidents came about while the driver of the other vehicle was attempting to stop a crime or save a life, they should simply accept what happened and move on.
While this is a noble idea, it doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation. Emergency vehicle operators are trained professionals that have a responsibility to keep other road users safe. If you have been a victim of an emergency vehicle driver who failed to uphold this responsibility, you have a right to compensation.
Contact The Cochran Firm in Philadelphia today to start the process of filing your claim. You can reach us over the phone at 800-969-4400 or via the contact form on our website.