The number of people killed in accidents involving emergency vehicles has risen by 18% since 2018, prompting a personal injury specialist with Kent law firm Furley Page to urge motorists to understand their rights in case they are affected. 

Data from the National Safety Council* for 2021 shows that 198 people died in crashes involving emergency vehicles, with crashes involving police cars accounting for 137 fatalities (69%). 

Neille Ryan, a Partner and Head of Personal Injury at Furley Page, said: “Emergency vehicles travelling under blue lights and sirens are exempt from the usual requirements to stop at a red traffic light, to travel within the speed limit and to overtake on the wrong side of a keep left bollard.  

“However, this is not a ‘get out of jail free card’. The onus is on the driver of the emergency vehicle to justify their manoeuvres and demonstrate that they acted as safely as they reasonably could, following their employers’ procedures and their training. 

“Although there isn’t a hard and fast rule establishing blame in these circumstances, more recently Courts have tended to favour the victim in these types of accident. It really depends on scrutiny of the accident circumstances and evidence. This will include the emergency vehicle dashcam and telemetry data, as well as that emergency service’s driving policies and training.” 

If you are involved in an accident with an emergency vehicle, you should respond in the same way as you would any accident. If anyone is injured, report the accident to the Police and call an ambulance if necessary. If safe to do so, take photographs of the accident scene.  

You should also obtain the details of the vehicle driver – name, address, telephone number and vehicle registration number. This can be difficult if the emergency vehicle is responding to an emergency call however, you can contact the relevant emergency service to advise them of the accident and they can then identify the driver. 

Neille continued: “If you have been injured in an accident involving an emergency vehicle, then you may be able to claim compensation for any injuries. The vast majority of our clients instruct us on a no win no fee basis and Furley Page will assess your prospects of success at the outset and advise if this is appropriate. 

“The time within which a claim can be brought is restricted (the “limitation period”). The claim must either have been settled, or Court proceedings commenced to protect it, within the limitation period, otherwise your chances of being allowed to pursue the claim are slim to non-existent.” 

For further information, please contact Neille Ryan on 01227 763939 or email   

* Statistics taken from National Safety Council website (accessed 15 June 2023):  

By Ed

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