Almost all drivers know that if a police car or other emergency vehicle is running with lights and sirens active that they are supposed to yield the right of way. What many people might not realize is that the drivers of the emergency vehicles still have a duty to exercise due caution to avoid causing accidents. A recent decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court highlights that fact.
In a ruling of 4 to 3, the Supreme Court disagreed with a ruling by a Racine County Circuit judge that threw out a $129,800 jury verdict against a Racine police officer. The officer was on a call with her car’s lights and sirens active when the accident happened. She went through a red light after only slowing down to 27 miles per hour. A woman in a pickup truck had music on in her truck and the windows rolled up. She drove through the green light and hit the side of the police cruiser.
A jury in the case found both of the women at fault for the car accident. They awarded damages to the driver of the pickup truck. That was thrown out by a circuit court judge who said that the officer had immunity because she was acting in an official capacity and exercised discretion when going through the intersection. The Supreme Court threw out that judge’s ruling and sided with the pickup truck driver.
Anyone who is injured by a driver has the right to seek compensation. Knowing about applicable laws might help victims and their families to decide how to move forward with a case.
Source: StarTribune, “Wisconsin Supreme Court rules against Racine officer who caused traffic accident” Jul. 25, 2014