Believe it or not, there was a time when police cars and ambulances were immune from personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. It wasn’t until recently that Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity, the safety blanket, was removed. In the past, any ambulance or police cruiser was exempt from lawsuits involving accidents or personal injury they may have caused. To go into detail about the doctrine, it reverted back to a time when leaders, such as kings, felt that they were above the law and any grievances their subjects may have had against them. Lawmakers collaborated with the dream of righting the scales of justice, and subsequent Acts were introduced into law. By collaborating, the lawmakers were able to cover parties left out in the past.
For example, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) waives the sovereign immunity and permits private parties to be sued for acts committed by persons acting on behalf of the United States. Under the FTCA, an individual can recover damages for failure to exercise legal care of a federal employee acting in official capacity. One of the most common exceptions to governmental immunity is when the government is liable for an automobile accident. Typically these accidents occur with emergency vehicles, such as a police car in a chase or an ambulance rushing to the hospital. There are two requirements for filing a lawsuit against a government entity or employee in the event of an accident.
The vehicle must be:
- Owned or leased by a government agency
- Operated by a public employee while performing their job
If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident with an emergency vehicle, you should contact a trained professional who can better advise you on the next step in the process. While the accident itself is similar to an accident involving other motorists, there are different laws that apply to emergency vehicles to include police cars and ambulances. Because your safety is paramount in the minutes following the accident, it helps to have someone you can reach out for you to protect your rights in an accident that was not your fault. By obeying the laws as they relate to emergency vehicles during emergencies, you are doing your part as a motorist to ensure the safety of whoever may be on the road, if an accident occurs, take as much caution with your future by reaching out to an attorney, like a personal injury lawyer Dekalb County GA victims need.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into accident cases.