Hit by an emergency vehicle going 50 in a 25 zone in MI

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Hit by an emergency vehicle going 50 in a 25 zone in MI

So a friend of mine was hit by a pickup truck owned by a local fire department that had lights on but no sirens. The truck had to be going well over the speed limit as the entire side of the car is smashed and the passenger had a collapsed lung and 4 broken ribs. My friend pulled out onto a road at a yield sign so technically the truck had the right of way, but was going too fast to see it coming. Who was in the wrong here and does anyone have a case? Fire department can sue?

Asked on December 9, 2016 under Accident Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If the truck was speeding in response to a call or emergency, it was not at fault: fire department vehicles may speed in those case and while it did not have its siren on, it did have its lights, which would be legally sufficient to warn other drivers out of the way.
If the truck was not responding to an emergency or call, then the driver (and so the the FD, too, as his [presumably] employer and as owner of the vehicle) would be at fault, since he was speeding when it was not legally allowed. However, your friend was also at fault, in that he lacked the right of way and pulled out when he should not have. Your state is a "comparative fault" state, which means that in a lawsuit (or in evaluating an insurance claim), they compare how much at fault each driver is and adjust the award or damages appropriately: so if under these circumstances, a court, for example, would find your friend was 30% at fault, whatever compensation he might otherwise get would be reduced by 30%. And if a court found that he was more than 50% at fault (for example, if where he pulled out, the sight lines were so clear that he really should have seen the truck coming a ways off an not pulled out), then the would not receive anything. The exact degree of fault for each person is a very situation-specific: it depends on the facts of this precise situation, such as visibilty.

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