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Is Louisiana ambulance driver responsible for fatal accident?

When emergency response vehicles here in Louisiana and elsewhere have their lights and sirens on, they are supposed to be given the right-of-way by other vehicles. As they respond to calls, police cars, fire trucks and ambulances routinely go through intersections even if the light is red and use oncoming lanes of travel if they need to in order to get where they are needed. However, simply having lights and sirens going does not allow drivers of emergency response vehicles to completely ignore traffic rules, which could lead to a serious or fatal accident. They are still required to make sure the way is clear and that they will not impact another vehicle as they travel.

At approximately 5 p.m. on a recent Monday, an ambulance was on its way to a call on U.S. 61 with lights and sirens going. Reportedly, the driver of the ambulance drifted into the oncoming lane and struck two vehicles. The second vehicle hit was pushed off the road, and when it came to a stop, it burst into flames.

The driver of that vehicle, a 62-year-old woman, was critically injured in the accident. She was taken to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Even though troopers with the Louisiana State Police do not believe that impairment played a role in the crash, they do suspect that the ambulance driver was speeding. Criminal charges are pending while the investigation is concluded.

The family of the victim retains the right to file a wrongful death claim against the ambulance driver and the employer in connection with this fatal accident. The legal theory of respondeat superior allows victims to recover damages from employers if an employee is found to be at fault for an accident that occurs during the course of that person's duties. Successfully establishing that the ambulance driver was negligent could result in an award of damages from both defendants.

Source: wwltv.com, "LaPlace woman killed in crash with ambulance", Aug. 23, 2016