If you were in a car wreck, you probably know that you're supposed to file a claim using the other driver's insurance. However, what happens if you're hurt in a wreck with a fire truck? If the accident wasn't your fault, can you file a claim against the fire department? What about the government?
The Law on Suing the Fire Department
The fire department is a government entity, so filing a car wreck claim against the fire department is to file a claim against the government. In Texas, there are laws that prohibit individuals from suing a state entity, such as a fire department, without strong reason. We have a set of statutes under the Texas Tort Claims Act that determine if the government can be liable for damages they cause in these kinds of accidents.
In the case of fire truck accidents, whether or not you can pursue a claim often depends on if the fire truck's lights were on at the time of the accident.
If Fire Truck's Lights Were On
If the emergency lights are were on and the fire engine was racing to an emergency when they hit you, it can be very difficult to win a fire truck accident case against the fire department. This is because cars are legally required to give fire trucks the right of way when their emergency lights and sirens are on. It's a driver's duty to remain aware of their surroundings at all times, and this includes paying attention to emergency vehicles and moving out of their way.
If you were in a wreck with a fire engine while they were on their way to an emergency, the insurance company will likely put you at fault for the wreck, and therefore your insurance will be responsible for the damages.
If a fire engine wrecked into you while their lights were blaring, but you believe they did something seriously wrong or unsafe that caused the wreck, feel free to give us a call. We've handled similar cases in the past and we'll be happy to review your case for free.
If Fire Truck's Lights Were Off
"Non-emergency accidents" refer to crashes that happen when the fire truck's lights and sirens aren't on. In this case, the fire truck is not automatically given the right of way. If a fire engine hit you during a non-emergency and you believe the accident was their fault, you can pursue a claim against them (with better odds of winning).
Your next step will be to construct your accident case using evidence. In order to win the compensation you deserve to pay for your medical bills, damaged vehicle, lost wages from missing work, pain and suffering, you'll need to prove that the firefighter caused the wreck and the wreck caused your injuries.
Collecting Evidence to Build Your Fire Truck Accident Case
Just like after a regular car accident, you'll need to collect all the necessary documentation to file a claim. Start by obtaining the fire truck's vehicle identification number and the name of the firefighter who was driving at the time of teh accident. The driver of the fire truck should also give you the name of their fire department. You can use that information to gather your county's contact information and the person you'll need to contact to start the claim.
Medical records, photos of the accident and damages and paystubs from missing work are also important pieces of evidence.