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When Should You Hire a Fire Truck Accident Attorney?

Of the 16,000 monthly vehicle accidents in New York City, only about 30 involve fire trucks. You may not require the services of a fire truck accident attorney often. Considering the nature of these accidents, however, the damage they cause is often severe.

Fire trucks are the largest emergency vehicles. When responding to an alarm, they must travel at high speeds and possibly drive through red lights. You, as a pedestrian or driver, also have a responsibility to move out of its way. 

Therefore the liability for an accident is not a clear-cut matter. This makes it prudent to consult personal injury lawyers before filing a compensation claim. The attorney will examine the evidence and advise you on the correct next step.

Why These Cases Might Prove Difficult

Traffic regulations allow emergency vehicles to exceed the speed limit, run through red lights, and skip stop signs when responding. The caveat is that they must do so responsibly. If the driver does so, you may not sue them personally. 

They may, for example, speed through a red light, but they must have their siren and flashing lights on. If a fire truck driver fails to follow the proper procedure in these instances, they may have to accept personal responsibility for the accident. 

You, however, must yield to the fire truck and may not ignore the sirens. Doing so may result in you being personally liable for an accident.

State Tort Claim Act

Before the State Tort Claim Act, the government could invoke the concept of sovereign immunity. Essentially this meant that you could not sue the state for the actions of an employee. In some instances, this was unfair, and so regulators enacted the State Tort Claim Act. 

Should you sue a state employee under this statute, the state assumes the role of defendant. If the courts award damages, the state will be liable to compensate the litigant. 

You should note that the terms of this statute are strict. If the court believes that there is any doubt over the cause of the accident, they will uphold sovereign immunity. The state is also not responsible for any intentional, illegal actions by employees.

In this situation, this would mean that the driver is personally liable if they intentionally drive the truck into a crowd. Reckless driving by the employee may also limit the state’s liability. 

The TCA imposes caps on how much the litigant may receive from the state. It usually also precludes the awarding of punitive damages. Speak to a fire truck accident attorney to find out more about how the act applies to you.

What Happens If A Fire Truck Hits You?

Fire trucks are large and can travel at 75 miles an hour or more. Legally, the driver may use whatever speed necessary to reach the scene of the blaze. It’s prudent to speak to an accident lawyer before lodging any claims to ensure you follow the proper procedure. 

Instances where you may be able to file a claim include the following.

Drowsiness

If the firefighter is too tired to drive safely, you may have a cause of action. Here the state’s liability may depend on the driver’s shifts. 

In New York and New Jersey, firefighters must get adequate rest, or they should not drive. If they don’t sleep enough due to inadequate management, they may have limited personal liability.  

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence is illegal. It may therefore be difficult to sue the state under the State Tort Claim Act. One could argue that the station chief has to check whether or not their firefighters are fit to work.  

Reckless Driving

Firefighters also have a duty of care to other road users. If you can prove that they were reckless, you may be able to prove them liable for the accident. It’s essential to distinguish between careless driving and negligence here. 

You must show that the driver was intentionally reckless rather than simply making an error. The driver must provide sufficient justification for their actions. If they cannot, you may lodge a claim against both the driver and the city. 

Failure to Obey General Traffic Rules

Driving a fire engine doesn’t automatically mean that drivers have the license to ignore the safety of other road users. They may only do so if it is safe to proceed. They are also not free to assume that other drivers will yield to them. 

Defective or Incorrectly Stored Equipment 

You may be liable to receive compensation if some of the equipment falls off the truck and harms you or damages your property. An example of this includes the hose working loose. 

A Defective Vehicle

The state must also maintain its fire engines properly. Should the crash occur due to failing brakes on the truck, for example, you may lodge a claim. Should another company be responsible for vehicle maintenance, you may also consider suing them. 

In the case of a manufacturer’s defect, your case may be against the manufacturer rather than the fire department. However, the courts may make an exception if the fault is public knowledge and the fire department took no corrective steps. 

A Car Accident With A Fire Truck

As with any other accident on the roads, the cause dictates whether or not you may request compensation. In New York and New Jersey, you may lodge a claim under the State Tort Claim Act. 

 

You may claim for:

The repair or replacement of your car

The cost of medical treatments

A loss of income 

 

In some exceptional circumstances, you may also request a claim for pain and suffering. 

Do You Need a Fire Truck Accident Attorney?

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals mined and used extensively in insulation and building materials, floor tiles, brake and transmission components, and conduits for electrical wiring. There was even asbestos found in talcum powder!

Despite their many application areas, asbestos is, in fact, a toxic substance that can cause:

  • Mesothelioma (lung cancer)
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Wheezing, hoarseness, and shortness of breath
  • Anemia or fatigue
  • Swelling of the neck
  • Pain or tightening of the chest
  • Persistent coughs
  • Blood coughed up from the lungs

When products that contain asbestos are disturbed, tiny fibers are released into the air. These fibers are then inhaled into the lungs, causing inflammation and scarring. If the fibers accumulate, they could affect breathing and even cause lung cancer. Asbestos in talc has been shown to cause ovarian cancer when talc is used in the genital area.

Do You Need a Fire Truck Accident Attorney?

If you were one of the unlucky few to be in an accident with an emergency vehicle, we might be able to assist you. Call the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates at 1-800-810-3457 or get in touch online and explain the situation. 

An attorney at our law firm can help you determine what to do next. 

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Please note that you are not considered a client until you have signed a retainer agreement and your case has been accepted by us. Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future matter.