Transit Bus and Ambulance Involved in Fatal Stuart Collision
The ambulance was transporting a 77-year-old man to the hospital when it t-boned a bus in an intersection and careened into a parked car.
This wreck occurred on Velasquez Avenue between Southeast Seville and Madrid. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the ambulance turned southeast, directly into the path of an oncoming Martin County transit bus. The ambulance passenger was declared dead at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing.
Emergency Vehicles and Car Crashes
The flashing lights and wailing siren of an emergency vehicle modify, but do not eliminate, the duty of care. After all, emergency responders engage in such behavior to save lives, and not to put people at risk.
Many agencies have special rules in this area. For example, most firefighters cannot enter intersections against a light until they pause and make sure the way is clear.
So, in determining liability for a car crash, a number of factors usually come into play. A few of them include:
- Time of day,
- Amount of traffic,
- Nature of the emergency,
- Driver behavior (g. was the vehicle running with siren and lights on or not), and
- The presence or absence of pedestrians.
Third party liability is more complex, because emergency responders are almost always city, county, or other government employees. More on that below.
Since the passengers are completely unrestrained, city bus and tour bus crashes usually cause serious injuries, such as:
- Head Injuries: Many vehicle collision wounds heal, given enough time and proper treatment. But brain injuries are always permanent. Physical therapy can improve the symptoms but never “cure” the injury.
- Crushed Bones: Many victims are pinned inside a partially-collapsed bus until first responders arrive. As a result, their bones are often crushed as opposed to broken. These wounds are very difficult to address.
Bus drivers obviously never operate in emergency mode, so they are always subject to the duty of care. In fact, since these operators are common carriers, they have a higher duty of care than normal. Bus drivers, Uber drivers, taxi drivers, and other commercial operators are virtually insurers of safe conduct from pickup to destination.
For example, most noncommercial drivers have a duty to slow down in heavy rain. Arguably, common carriers have a duty to pull over and wait for the rain to stop, or at least slacken, before they proceed.
This duty of care also applies to the passengers themselves. Bus owners must ensure that petty fights between passengers do not become violent and that the walkway is free of spills and other fall hazards.
Third Party Liability
In both emergency responder crashes and bus crashes, the respondeat superior rule usually applies. This legal doctrine holds employers responsible for the negligence of their employees. Florida law defines all these key terms in broad, victim-friendly ways.
Government employer claims are a bit different from a procedural standpoint. Before filing actions in civil court, victims must file notices of claim. These documents give governmental entities a chance to investigate and settle the claim before it goes to court. If the settlement offer is unacceptable, victims may file court claims.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Lawyer
High-speed intersection wrecks often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Stuart personal injury attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.