Gen Zhan, 81, was hit and killed by an FDNY ambulance as he was walking across a street in the East Village section of Manhattan. Zhan was walking north on East 14th Street at the intersection of Second Avenue. He was reportedly in the crosswalk and was hit by an ambulance that was making a left turn. The ambulance was en route to a non-priority call. A non-priority call indicates the ambulance should be proceeding without lights and sirens. This will undoubtedly be a crucial detail in the investigation.
Accident Investigators will be seeking answers as to why this collision took place. They will try to ascertain where the ambulance was heading to and, regardless of policy, whether the lights and sirens of the ambulance were on. Investigators will also scrutinize the driving history of the ambulance operator, apparently a 22-year-old male. Regardless of what they learn, a human life was lost as a result of the carelessness of the ambulance driver. This was a senseless loss of life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the victim.
The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have written in the past about the laws that apply to emergency vehicles. For a primer on the laws that govern ambulances, police and fire department vehicles, read this.
The laws that govern the conduct of ordinary drivers do not necessarily apply to the driver of an emergency vehicle in New York. New York law requires drivers under normal circumstances to exercise reasonable care. Emergency vehicles that are being operated during an emergency, however, may be entitled to a different standard of care. Drivers in emergency situations may be entitled to an elevated standard requiring proof that they operated the emergency vehicle with a reckless disregard for others. The policy reasons behind this are obvious. The State wants emergency drivers to respond to emergencies without focusing on whether they are complying with every rule and regulation so that they can save lives. It doesn’t always work that way though. When an emergency responder injures someone while driving there is often an inquiry as to whether the driver’s conduct is subject to the standard of a ‘reasonable person’ or the more difficult standard of proof requiring a showing of ‘reckless disregard’. ‘Reckless Disregard’ is a very lofty burden to meet.
Still, do the actions of this driver trigger the ‘Reckless Disregard’ standard? It will depend on the facts that are unveiled during the investigation.
- What was the nature of the call the driver was responding to?
- Were the lights of the ambulance on at the time of the crash?
- Was the siren on and audible at the time the ambulance made its turn?
A Plaintiff can still prevail even if a court were to determine that a ‘Reckless Disregard’ threshold of proof was required. Again, it all depends on the details. The lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy have handled emergency vehicle cases in the past. In fact, the firm took a case all the way to New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, and persuaded the judges to allow a jury to decide a case of the statute.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a serious collision with an emergency vehicle it may be in your best interests to consult with an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have a long and proud tradition representing victims of serious crashes. The firm has recovered nearly $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for their clients. You may contact them at any time for a free consultation by calling 212.736.5300.