An EMS vehicle taking a patient to a hospital collided with two other vehicles at an intersection in Brooklyn last weekend, causing multiple injuries and one fatality. According to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), the traffic accident occurred at approximately 3 p.m. on Avenue N and Schenectady Avenue in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn.
The EMS vehicle was heading westbound on Avenue N as it transported a 95-year-old woman with a heart condition. As it approached the intersection, it collided with a 2002 Nissan Maxima heading south on Schenectady Avenue.
Authorities determined that the ambulance had its sirens and lights on as it entered the intersection against a red light. It struck the front bumper of the Nissan, rolled over on the driver’s side and hit a third vehicle at the traffic light as it slid to a stop.
The patient in the EMS vehicle was pronounced dead at the hospital. The ambulance driver, six ambulance workers and the Nissan’s driver and passenger were all hospitalized with minor injuries. The investigation remains ongoing.
Proper guidance for the operation of EMS vehicles
When EMS vehicles are responding to an emergency, there are specific protocols that drivers must follow that will reduce injuries and property damage on public roads. The New York Department of Health has identified an epidemic of ambulance vehicle accidents, with an estimated 400 ambulance crashes occurring annually that injure nearly two people per day. According to authorities, if each EMS response vehicle was able to stop at every controlled intersection, 75% of these accidents could be prevented.
Under NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law, while transporting a sick or injured person, an EMS vehicle driver may:
- Stop, stand or park as necessary for the performance of the emergency service
- Proceed past a red light, flashing red signal or stop sign only after slowing down to ensure safe operations when entering the intersection
- Exceed maximum speed limit as long as it does not endanger life or property
- Disregard traffic directions of movement or turning in specific directions
The above permissions do not apply for vehicles returning from emergency service, or without the sounding of audible sirens and displayed flashing lamps.
In order to prove that an emergency responder acted negligently in a traffic accident, it is necessary to show that they acted with reckless disregard, which is a higher standard to prove than ordinary negligence. It is also essential to find experienced legal counsel to help you with determining who to hold accountable in order to obtain the maximum compensation for your claim.