On Friday, April 24th, 21-year-old Sarah E. Mills of Salem was killed when her Honda Civic struck a Ford F-350 marked for the Franklin Volunteer Fire Department as an emergency vehicle. The emergency vehicle was blocking a lane of traffic on I-85 to assist an unrelated vehicle when the crash occurred. The driver of the emergency vehicle, who has not been named, was outside of his vehicle and was struck during the crash. He was transported to a hospital with serious injuries.
What happens when an emergency vehicle is involved?
WBRC Fox6’s LawCall Host, Tiffany Bittner, interviews Attorney Kirby Farris.
TIFFANY BITTNER: Kirby, this is the second I-85 car wreck that we have covered this week, both of which have involved fatalities and serious injuries. My heart breaks each time I come across another one, and I can imagine it inspires a lot of fear for individuals traversing this interstate. Does your firm see a lot of car wrecks along I-85?
KIRBY FARRIS: Tiffany, you’re correct, this accident occurred just a day after another major, fatal crash occurred on this interstate. Unfortunately, we do see quite a few accidents occurring on that stretch of road. In fact, our firm is currently handling more than fifteen accident cases on I-85 that occurred in 2019 alone, not to mention numerous crashes occurring on the various other interstates that run through Alabama.
TIFFANY BITTNER: I imagine that must be a high number, given the number of vehicles who need to pull into the emergency lane for car issues, emergencies, etc. This accident in particular involved an emergency vehicle. Is it common for crashes to involve emergency vehicles?
KIRBY FARRIS: It is not overly common, though these types of crashes do happen more often that you might think. The National Safety Council advised that in 2018, one hundred-sixty-eight people died as a result of a collision with an emergency vehicle. The majority were caused by collisions with police cars, followed by a smaller number involving ambulances, and the smallest number involving firetrucks. Our firm has had multiple inquiries just this year from people questioning the legality of a collision with an emergency or law enforcement vehicle.
TIFFANY BITTNER: I assume you mean they were questioning whether or not the emergency vehicle could be held liable for their injuries, correct? For example, the emergency vehicle in this accident was blocking a lane of traffic due to assisting another vehicle. Could you shed some light on the legality of that?
KIRBY FARRIS: That’s correct. Many individuals are unaware of the rules of traffic when it comes to emergency or law enforcement vehicles. Alabama has a specific law to address these types of situations. The “Move Over Law” states that if any emergency vehicle using visual signs of emergency is parked on or near the roadway, all other vehicles are required by law to safely merge to an available lane and slow to a reasonable speed of 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit while in the area of the crash. Though failure to adhere to this law can result in penalties, it remains one of the leading causes for law enforcement deaths.
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Disclaimer: The intent of this post is to provide general information to our readers and to help improve the safety and quality of life for those who live in our state. At Farris, Riley & Pitt Law Firm, we intend to honor those who are victimized in accidents across Alabama. We aim to provide up to date information to the public surrounding these incidents in hopes of helping others avoid becoming victims themselves. If anyone is involved in an accident, we would like to make sure they know how to respond, should a tragedy occur. Information in this post, should not be considered legal or medical advice. You should seek further assistance from a legal or medical professional if you or a loved one is a victim in an accident. Any photos depicted in these posts are not representative of the actual accident scene.