First responders are expected to save lives. In one wrongful death case, however, the city of Columbus settled a lawsuit against a firefighter who drove a fire truck through an intersection and caused the death of an 86-year-old driver back in November of 2013.
The firefighter was assigned to Columbus station 32 and dispatched to drive the fire truck to a blaze. According to his affidavit, he turned on an electronic siren before leaving the station but did not activate the apparatus’ mechanical siren.
His vehicle approached an intersection without sirens or lights being activated. He pulled an air horn in short bursts to warn drivers as he approached heavy traffic in the intersection, according to his affidavit.
Despite a red traffic light, the firefighter drove the truck through the intersection because he though it could proceed unimpeded.
His truck crashed into the decedent’s car at 35 mph and without stopping. She died a week later from injuries she suffered in the accident.
At the time, the firefighter claimed that he could have driven safely through the intersection. The rules of his fire division, however, dictate that fire trucks must stop at red lights. These vehicles can only drive through them if it is done safely.
The firefighter, now retired, admitted that he did not safely enter the intersection. He believes, with the benefit of hindsight, that there would have been no accident if he brought the fire truck to a full stop at the intersection.
After the lawsuit was filed by the deceased driver’s son, the 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Columbus could not be sued because it had governmental immunity. However, the court found that the firefighter driver was not entitled to this immunity. The City of Columbus City Council voted on November 5th to settle the wrongful death lawsuit. It agreed to pay $410,000 to the victim’s family.
Families who lose a loved one in an accident caused by the negligence of another, whether that person be operating in a government or private capacity, should seek prompt legal assistance. An attorney can help gather evidence and fight in hopes of assuring that the responsible parties are brought to account for their negligence