Articles Posted in Ambulance Accidents

When a truck driver causes an accident after making a careless or reckless driving error—like running a red light or driving the wrong way on a one-way street—state law allows the injured parties to file a Maryland truck accident lawsuit to recover for damages incurred as a result. However, there may be certain cases where states want to limit liability for certain drivers or accidents. One common instance is limiting the liability of or providing immunity to those driving emergency medical vehicles such as ambulances who cause crashes. Granting this immunity allows those providing emergency medical care to escape liability if tragically they cause an accident while trying to help someone else.

In a recent opinion, a state supreme court considered whether an ambulance driver was immune from liability after he ran a red light, causing a serious car accident. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff in the case was injured on March 11, 2016, when a private ambulance driven by one of the defendants (and owned by the other defendant) ran a red light, colliding with the plaintiff’s vehicle.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendants, seeking to recover damages for his injuries based on the negligence or, alternatively, the willful and wanton misconduct of the driver. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s negligence claim based on an immunity provision in a state statute. The statute provides civil immunity to anyone who is operating an ambulance in the performance of non-emergency medical services at the time of the accident, unless they were operating it with willful or wanton misconduct. Because negligence is much easier to prove than willful or wanton misconduct, having the negligence claim dismissed would significantly decrease the plaintiff’s chance at winning the suit.

In cases where more than one party is at fault, some plaintiffs may be barred from recovery altogether. The laws concerning the effect of the plaintiff’s negligence vary depending on the jurisdiction. The law that applies in Maryland truck accident cases is the doctrine of contributory negligence, which is a particularly harsh law for Maryland personal injury plaintiffs.

Contributory negligence comes from the common law, and has been the law in Maryland since 1847. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, if the plaintiff is found even partially at fault for the damages, the plaintiff is barred from recovery. Many have criticized the doctrine of contributory negligence, as it leads to harsh consequences and what many consider unfair results. Few states still follow the contributory negligence doctrine.

The General Assembly of Maryland has so far rejected the adoption of comparative negligence, which could replace the contributory negligence doctrine. Under the general comparative fault doctrine, or “pure comparative negligence,” the fault of both the plaintiff and the defendant are considered, but comparative fault only reduces the award by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. Under pure comparative negligence, a plaintiff can recover even if the plaintiff is found mostly at fault. Under some comparative fault doctrines, a plaintiff can recover as long as the plaintiff is found 50% or less at fault. This is generally referred to as “modified comparative negligence.”

Earlier this month in Wachapreague, Virginia, one man was killed as he was being transported to the hospital in an ambulance when the vehicle he was being transported in struck a bus. According to one local news source, the ambulance had its lights and sirens on when the accident occurred.

Evidently, the 38-year-old driver of the ambulance failed to obey a traffic signal and entered the intersection without checking if it was clear, striking a transit bus. After the collision, the ambulance lost control and rolled several times before coming to a rest.

The 60-year-old man being transported in the back of the ambulance died from the injuries he sustained in the accident. There were no passengers on the bus, and the bus driver was uninjured. The driver of the ambulance and two emergency responders who were also in the ambulance suffered minor injuries but are expected to make a full recovery.

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