September 11, 2014
Emergency crews responded to an automobile crash near the intersection of Hull Street Road and Belt Boulevard in South Richmond.
The crash occurred when a red sedan failed to yield to an oncoming Richmond ambulance. The ambulance, which was en route to a 911 call, had its emergency lights and sirens engaged at the time of the accident.
After reviewing the ambulance’s safety monitoring system, which records operator driving patterns, driving speed, and use of safety devices, Chief Operating Officer Rob Lawrence has confirmed that the crew aboard the ambulance correctly followed vehicle safety protocol.
Ambulance operators, like many emergency responders, often find themselves in this type of dangerous situation. As is the case with any employee, when an ambulance operator is injured during the course of employment, that operator may be entitled to workers’ compensation, including but not limited to: temporary total or partial disability benefits; permanent total disability benefits; lifetime medical benefits; death benefits; permanent partial disability benefits; and vocational rehabilitation benefits.
The preliminary facts suggest that if the ambulance operators were injured as a result of the accident, they have a viable worker’s compensation claim.
The ambulance operators were on duty and responding to an emergency call – a work-related activity occurring during work hours – which resulted in an automobile accident.
In Virginia, workers’ compensation does not extend to employees who were injured as a result of their own willful misconduct, drunkenness, willful failure to use a safety device, willful violation of an employer’s known rule, or use of a non-prescribed controlled drug. In this case, however, it has been reported that the ambulance operators correctly followed vehicle safety protocol and were not acting negligently.
Therefore, if the ambulance operators did sustain injury as a result of the accident, it is critical that they provide written notice to their employer within 30 days of the accident. That notice must include name and address; the time, place, nature and cause of the accident; and the nature and cause of the injury. That notice must be signed and dated.
In Virginia, injured employees have two years from the date of the injury to file a claim with the Worker’s Compensation Commission (WCC). Injured employees should always file a claim with the WCC, even if their employer volunteers to pay lost wages or provides medical care. Without a claim on file, an employer may stop paying lost wages or medical expenses at any time.
The driver of the sedan may also seek recompense for personal injury resulting from the accident. In Virginia, injured parties only have two years to file a personal injury claim.
For the driver of the sedan to succeed, he or she would need to prove that the ambulance operators negligently caused their injury – namely, that the ambulance operators owed him or her a duty, failed to carry it out, and that said failure resulted in his or her injury.
However, under the contributory negligence rule, if the driver of the sedan is found to have not exercised ordinary care for his or her own safety, he or she will not be able to recover damages.