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New York Court Analyzes the Authorized Emergency Vehicle Standard in Car Accident Cases

Generally, a plaintiff seeking damages in a lawsuit arising out of a motor vehicle collision must demonstrate the defendant’s negligence in order to prevail. In some instances, though, other standards of care will apply. For example, a defendant that causes a crash while operating an authorized emergency vehicle will only be deemed liable if they acted with reckless disregard. The authorized emergency vehicle standard only applies in limited circumstances, however, as demonstrated in an opinion recently issued by a New York court. If you sustained injuries in a collision caused by someone else’s careless driving, you should speak to a Rochester personal injury attorney about your potential claims.

Factual Background of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered injuries after his vehicle and the defendant’s vehicle collided. At the time of the crash, the defendant, who was a volunteer member of an ambulance squad, was responding to a call. The defendant was driving his personal vehicle behind the plaintiff’s vehicle and attempted to pass the plaintiff on the left at the same time the plaintiff attempted to make a left-hand turn.

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that his negligence brought about the crash. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that he was driving an authorized emergency vehicle and, therefore, his conduct was measured under the reckless disregard standard. He further asserted that as he was not reckless as a matter of law, the claims against him should be dismissed. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Authorized Emergency Vehicle Standard

On appeal, the court vacated the trial court ruling. The court agreed with the plaintiff’s assertion that the defendant was not driving an authorized emergency vehicle and, therefore, the reckless disregard standard did not apply.

The court explained that under New York law, the reckless disregard standard of care applies when a driver of an authorized emergency vehicle involved in an emergency operation engages in conduct exempted from the rules of the road by the authorized emergency vehicle law. Authorized emergency vehicles include ambulance service vehicles that are properly equipped and owned by an ambulance service for the purpose of transporting emergency personnel to sick or injured people.

In the subject case, the plaintiff submitted evidence demonstrating that the defendant was driving his own vehicle and that his vehicle was not being operated by the ambulance service. Thus, the court found that the authorized emergency vehicle standard did not apply, and the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion.

Meet with an Experienced Rochester Personal Injury Lawyer

All people driving on New York roadways have an obligation to operate their vehicles with reasonable care, but it is not uncommon for people to drive in a reckless manner regardless, and their carelessness often causes car accidents. If you were injured in a collision brought about by a reckless driver, you might be able to recover damages in a civil lawsuit, and you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Rochester personal injury lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at helping people harmed by the negligence of others seek justice for their losses. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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