Two ambulances collided in Orange County Jan. 12, Orlando’s WESH has reported. The station wrote that both ambulances had their sirens and lights on when one clipped the other at the intersection of Silver Star Road and Apopka-Vineland Road. The ambulance then hit a passenger car with a mother and daughter in it. The mother and daughter, as well as a patient and an EMT from one of the ambulances, were taken to the hospital. Another station, WFTV, reports that everyone involved sustained only minor injuries, fortunately.
This article caught my eye because, as a Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyer, I happen to know that crashes between professionally driven vehicles are very rare. Buses, delivery trucks and even semis are not involved in fatal accidents nearly as often as private cars, trucks and SUVs — although the results are often terrible when they are. And according to 2007 statistics from the federal Department of Transportation, the vehicle types that are mostly likely to be used as ambulances — large vans, step vans and cab chassis-based light trucks — collectively represent fewer than 2% of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents.
Unfortunately, a closer look reveals that ambulances are an exception. According to this 2003 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EMS workers sustain 12.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, almost always due to traffic accidents. That’s well over the overall rate of fatal traffic accidents and even higher than the rate of traffic deaths for firefighters and police officers. However, the CDC report goes on to say that about two-thirds of those who die in ambulances are passengers — not EMS personnel. And other statistics show that more than three-fourths of the victims in ambulance crashes are the people in other vehicles. So in fact, the majority of those hurt in ambulance crashes are patients or random citizens who were just unlucky enough to be in the way.
The CDC report does not examine accident causes, although it does note that EMTs not using seatbelts is one factor in injuries. However, when an ambulance crashes into a passenger car, the large weight difference means that the car is likely to be seriously damaged, placing the people inside at risk of death or very serious injuries. And when the crash is the ambulance driver’s fault, those people are victims of negligent driving. Just like victims of a crash between two private cars, they have every right to sue the negligent drivers — and, if appropriate, the government agency employing them — to seek compensation for their injuries and losses.
Lawsuits against government agencies can be very complicated, requiring advance notice and other special steps before any lawsuit can actually be filed. If you believe you have a claim against a government agency for an ambulance crash or any other negligence by a government employee, you should always get advice from an experienced Florida accident lawyer. Our firm, Cohn, Smith & Cohn, can help. To set up a free consultation with our Florida auto accident attorneys, please contact us online as soon as possible.