It is the law in New York to yield to emergency vehicles when their lights and sirens are on, and this is to ensure that these emergency responders are able to get to where they need to be quickly. The lights and sirens also provide considerable notice to all other motorists that they need to get out of the way. Unfortunately, when inattentive drivers fail to notice emergency lights and sirens, they can cause serious accidents. Because of the nature of their positions, however, it is not always clear whether emergency responders can file personal injury lawsuits against those motorists who cause accidents by not yielding.
This is not to say that accidents between everyday citizens in Troy can't be settled in a personal injury lawsuit. Had an accident that happened earlier in the month taken place between two laypeople, there is no doubt that one driver's failure to yield to the other would make him or her liable for the other driver's serious injuries.
The accident happened in Troy when a fire department battalion chief was racing in his SUV to a fire. The chief had his lights and sirens on and was leaving the Central Fire Station with firefighters in other vehicles behind his. As he went north on Sixth Avenue, he entered the Jacob Street intersection, believing that because of his lights and sirens, he would be able to travel quickly and safely through the intersection. Instead, another driver failed to yield to him and the chief smashed into the passenger side of the vehicle.
The chief was rushed to Albany Medical Center Hospital. He kept losing consciousness and medical personnel wanted to run some tests on him. It is unclear what the extent of the damage is or how long it may take to recover from such a serious accident. Had this been someone other than a firefighter who had the right of way, only to collide with someone who failed to yield, there would be little question that he or she would be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. Because of the fire chief's status, however, it remains somewhat unclear.
Source: Albany Times-Union, "Troy fire official hospitalized after crash," Cathleen F. Crowley, Jan. 5, 2013
Our law firm handles many cases of motor vehicle accidents in Troy. If you are looking for more information, please visit our website.