The emergency services (police, ambulance, fire, sea rescue, etc) do a fantastic job of protecting the public on a daily basis. They regularly save lives and prevent accidents by getting to the scene of an emergency by using their sirens and blue lights to pass through busy areas quickly. However, driving at speed can lead to accidents, and if you’re injured in one involving an emergency services vehicle, are you entitled to compensation?
In this claims article, we’ll answer some common questions about accidents and compensation claims involving an emergency services vehicle. They include:
- Are the emergency services drivers exempt from the law?
- Can you claim compensation for an accident with an emergency services vehicle?
- Does the highway code apply to emergency services vehicles?
While we’ll provide more information as we proceed, the short answer is that emergency services vehicle drivers have a duty of care towards the safety of other road users. As such, you could claim compensation if you’re injured after being hit by a police car, ambulance, fire engine or other service vehicle.
If you do decide to take action, we’re here to help. Our team of claims advisors are ready to provide a no-obligation review of your case and give you free legal advice about your options. If your claim has strong grounds, we could ask one of our personal injury lawyers to represent you. If they take your case on, they can start working on it without any advance payment because of their No Win, No Fee service. That should mean you’ll find the claims process much less stressful.
To begin an emergency services vehicle compensation claim right away, please call us on 0800 652 1345.
Types of Emergency Services Vehicles
There are a variety of vehicles used by emergency services. They include:
- Police cars.
- Safety camera vans.
- Police cycles and motorbikes.
- Armed police.
- Unmarked police cars.
- Riot vans.
- Fire engines.
- Support vehicles.
- Vans and cars.
Other Emergency Service Vehicles
- Bomb disposal.
- Blood service.
- Highways vehicles.
- Search and rescue.
This is just a sample of the types of vehicles used by the emergency services. Whether these vehicles are equipped with blue lights or not, if you’re injured in an accident involving one, you could be eligible to claim compensation.
Can I claim compensation for an accident with an Emergency Services Vehicle?
For the purposes of compensation claims, you should think of an accident with an emergency services vehicle in the same way as any other type of Road Traffic Accident (RTA). That means that you might be eligible to claim compensation if:
- The other driver involved in your accident caused an accident through a negligent act; and
- You were injured because of that accident.
The rules of the road (as set out by the Highway Code and the Road Traffic Act 1988) apply to all road users. They set out a duty of care that all road users must act in a way that will keep everyone else on the road as safe as possible. If that duty of care is shown to have been broken, the responsible driver could be deemed to have been negligent and a compensation claim might be possible as a result.
Aren’t Emergency Services Vehicle drivers protected by the law?
If a driver of an emergency services vehicle is on an emergency call, they can use their sirens and lights to indicate this to other road users. They can drive at speeds above the normal road limits and pass-through stop signs, red traffic signals and similar junctions. However, they must consider the safety of other road users when doing so.
If the vehicle is not attending an emergency, it must be driven within the normal rules or the road i.e. within the normal speed limits and the driver must obey all traffic signals.
If you are involved in an accident with a police car, ambulance or fire engine caused by the driver’s negligence, you could be entitled to compensation for any injuries.
What should I do if an Emergency Services Vehicle is approaching?
In normal circumstances, you should drive in the same way as if any other vehicle was behind you. However, if the emergency vehicle is using its blue lights or sirens, you should try to move out of its way when it is safe for you to do so.
If an emergency services vehicle drives too close to you while you’re trying to find a safe place to pull over, this could be deemed reckless and you could be compensated if this action results in an accident in which you are injured.
Common injuries from accidents involving Emergency Services Vehicles
It would take quite a long time to list every injury you could claim for following an RTA with an emergency services vehicle. As such, we’ve listed a few of the more common below:
- Fractured or broken bones.
- Soft tissue injuries (please see the section below on whiplash claims).
- Cuts, lacerations or bruises.
- Head and brain injuries.
- Back injuries.
- Mental harm.
In early 2021, the government introduced new rules relating to whiplash claims. Since they came into force, low-value claims (below £5,000) for road traffic accidents can now be made through an online portal without the need for legal representation.
It’s not always easy to put a value on your injuries so we would suggest that you still seek free legal advice with us if you are injured in an accident involving an emergency services vehicle initially. If your claim is deemed to be low-value, we’ll refer you to the online portal. Otherwise, we may still be able to connect you with one of our personal injury solicitors.
What compensation could I be entitled to?
We’re now going to look at how compensation is calculated for injuries caused by road traffic accidents, and what you could be entitled to. Generally, claims are based on your injuries and the costs you’ve incurred because of them. These are called general and special damages. While each personal injury claim is unique, you could request compensation for the following:
- Any pain and suffering that resulted from your physical injuries and subsequent treatment.
- Compensation for loss of amenity.
- The mental harm caused by the collision i.e. anxiety, depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Private medical costs (in some cases).
- Care and travel expenses linked to your injuries.
- Any income you’ve lost or will lose because of your injuries.
- The cost of modifications to your home or vehicle to help you deal with any ongoing injuries (disabilities).
It is vital that you consider all aspects of the suffering caused by your injuries because it’s only possible to make a single claim. If you decide to work with one of our solicitors, they’ll use their experience to try and make sure any compensation that’s awarded is fair.
Providing proof to support a compensation claim against the Emergency Services
Again, you shouldn’t treat a collision with an emergency services vehicle any different to a normal road traffic accident. If you decide to claim against the emergency services for any injuries, it will still be processed in the same way so you must try to secure as much proof to demonstrate what happened, who was to blame and how you were injured. To do this, you could:
- Swap details with the other driver. It’s important to note the name, contact details and insurance details of the driver of the emergency services vehicle. If they have a collar number that could identify them, you should take note of it. Also, make a note of the vehicle registration, make and model.
- Collect video footage. If your vehicle or the emergency services vehicle had a dashcam fitted, try to secure a copy of the relevant files. The same with any CCTV that might have recorded the crash. Usually, this won’t be kept for longer than 30-days so you should act quickly.
- Write down any witness information. Where others saw your accident with a police car, ambulance or fire engine happen, it’s a good idea to ask for their contact details. If your claim ends up being your word versus the other driver’s, your solicitor could contact the witnesses for a statement about what they saw.
- Obtain your medical notes. Any treatment you received at a hospital, GP surgery or minor injuries unit will be captured in your medical records. These could be obtained to show what injuries you were treated for.
- Take photographs. If you took photographs at the scene of the accident, they can help you to explain what happened. Ideally, these should be taken as soon as possible and from various angles.
As part of many personal injury claims, you might need to have a medical assessment. You needn’t be too concerned about this though as it’s quite straightforward. Usually, your solicitor will make an appointment with a local independent medical expert. They’ll meet with you and discuss how your injuries have affected you before conducting an examination. After the meeting, they’ll send a report to your solicitor to show what injuries you sustained and to explain your prognosis.
Time limits for claiming compensation against the Emergency Services
We should explain that you must start your claim against the emergency services within a 3-year time limit. In most cases, the limitation period starts from the date of your accident. Although 3-years is quite a long time, it’s often to start sooner rather than later so you and your solicitor have enough time to collect any evidence that’s needed to support your case.
If a child has been injured in an accident with an emergency services vehicle, the 3-year time limit is not applied. Instead, you (as a parent or guardian) can take action at any time before the child turns 18 years old as their litigation friend.
How long do compensation claims take?
Although there are guidelines on how lawyers and insurers should deal with personal injury claims, there is no exact timeframe for compensation claims against the emergency services to be processed within. That’s because each claim is unique.
Where your injuries were minor and the defendant accepts they were liable for the accident quickly, you could be compensated in as little as 6 months. However, if the claim is contested or further medical evidence is needed, the claim might take longer than a year to be finalised.
Will my claim against the Emergency Services have to go to court?
In our experience, very few road traffic accident claims end up in court. That’s because our solicitors vet any claim they take on to ensure it has a reasonable chance of success. Although there is a chance a court date may need to be set, most claims can be settled amicably with the defendant.
No Win, No Fee claims
If your claim is accepted by one of our solicitors, they’ll represent you on a No Win, No Fee basis. That means they can start dealing with your case without any upfront payment for their work.
To work on this basis, you’ll enter into a contract called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This will show you what your solicitor will do during your case and what they need to achieve before you must pay them.
Essentially, if your case is lost, you don’t pay for your solicitor’s work. If it’s won, you’ll pay a success fee to cover their time and expenses. The success fee is listed in the CFA. Instead of sending money to cover the fee, it is deducted from any compensation you’re awarded.
When using a CFA, success fees are legally capped to 25% of your settlement. To see if a No Win, No Fee solicitor could represent you, please call today.
Start a claim for an accident involving an Emergency Services Vehicle today
If you’ve found this claims article useful and would now like to talk to us about claiming for a collision involving an emergency services vehicle, please get in touch with our team on 0800 652 1345 today.
Your case will be reviewed for free and you’ll receive legal advice about your claim however you decide to proceed so there’s nothing to lose by calling.
Thank you for reading about how to claim compensation for accidents involving an emergency services vehicle, and if you have any questions please contact us via live chat or request a free consultation here.