Most drivers in Oregon understand that they must yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles whose sirens are sounding and whose lights are flashing. A recent car accident in Tualatin, a Portland suburb, raises difficult questions about whether a motorist improperly failed to yield the right-of-way to an ambulance.
The accident occurred on a busy thoroughfare near the entrance to a Fred Meyer Store. Police investigators said that an ambulance failed to stop for a red light and crashed into a Volkswagen that was apparently pulling out of the Fred Meyer parking lot. According to police, the ambulance was using its flashing lights and siren when the accident occurred. The driver of the Volkswagen and the car's three passengers were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. No information was provided concerning their medical condition. Neither the ambulance's driver nor passenger was injured. The ambulance was not transporting any patients at the time of the accident.
According to police, the accident remains under investigation, and no citations have been issued. The fact that the ambulance was not carrying patients may be significant in determining whether the ambulance crew violated the law. Police must first determine whether the ambulance was responding to an emergency call and had not yet picked up the person needing assistance. Another question involves the driver of the Volkswagen. Was he aware of the ambulance before he drove into the road on which the ambulance was traveling? Finally, investigators must determine whether alcohol played a role in the accident.
Like many multiple vehicle accidents, fault may be difficult to determine. Both the ambulance driver and the driver of the Volkswagen have a duty to use reasonable care, although the duties are not equal in scope. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a multi-vehicle accident may wish to consult a lawyer who handles such cases for an evaluation of the facts and an estimate of whether damages can be recovered for medical expenses, lost income and pain, and suffering.
Source: Fox 12, "Ambulance involved in T-bone crash in Tualatin; four people taken to hospital," Fox 12 Staff, Sep. 18, 2017