A runaway ambulance rear-ended a woman sitting at a stoplight in the Northeast Side, sending her to the hospital with serious injuries.
The crash took place at the intersection of Sunshadow and Perrin Beitel Road. After it slammed into her car, the ambulance continued going forward until it smacked into a traffic light pole. Meanwhile, the force of the collision propelled the woman’s vehicle into the intersection and into the path of an SUV making a left turn. The SUV driver was unable to avoid a collision, and the vehicle spun several times before eventually coming to rest against a utility pole.
Aside from the woman, no other injuries were reported.
Third Party Liability
Normally, when a commercial vehicle like a tractor-trailer, delivery truck, or taxicab is involved in a crash, the employer is liable for damages under the theory of respondeat superior. However, when an emergency vehicle is involved, the plaintiff may need to prove additional facts.
In a standard respondeat superior case, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the tortfeasor’s (negligent person’s) act was committed:
- Within the course and scope of employment;
- In furtherance of the employer’s business; and
- To accomplish the purpose or objective for which the worker was hired.
Courts typically interpret these tests very broadly. They also are willing to find that most workers are legal employees instead of interns or independent contractors, so long as the employer exercised some sort of control over the worker.
But first responders, like police officers and paramedics, are not held to the same duty as ordinary drivers. Most notably, when these vehicles are operating in emergency mode, they do not have a duty to stop at traffic lights and obey some other “rules of the road.”
This immunity is not unlimited. If the first responder recklessly endangers persons or property, and rear-ending a stopped car would probably qualify as such, liability still applies. Moreover, many departments have written or oral policies regarding these matters. If the driver disregards policy, such an act may be evidence of negligence.
The negligent driver may not be the only party responsible for a victim’s injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney who examines the case from every angle, contact our office. After hours appointments are available.