Car on Fire

Police Officers Responding To a Shooting Are involved in Car Accident Injuring 5

Matt Troutman April 20, 2023

On Tuesday, April 18, 2023, there was a traffic accident at the intersection of South First Street and East St. Catherine Street in Louisville, Ky. The accident involved a Louisville police cruiser, a Jefferson County Sheriff’s cruiser and two passenger vehicles. The officers were in route to help at the scene of a shooting taking place at the 100 block of West Kentucky Street. The sheriff’s deputy, Louisville police officer, two other adults and a child were transported to local hospitals for treatment. A Louisville traffic accident investigation team is conducting the accident investigation. It was reported that both emergency vehicles had activated their sirens and emergency lights.

What are the Kentucky laws regarding emergency vehicles obeying traffic laws?

The officers reportedly used his siren and lights, but their responsibility in entering an intersection against a redlight is more than just turning on his sirens and lights. KRS 189.940 is the Kentucky law governing the responsibilities of emergency vehicles. This statute provides exemptions from normal traffic laws for emergency vehicles. There are 4 circumstances when the exemption applies:

1.    Emergency vehicles responding to emergency calls;

2.    Police when in pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law;

3.    Ambulances when transporting a patient to medical care facilities;

4.    Any vehicle used by an organ procurement organization while transporting a human organt or tissue for the purpose of organ recovery or transplantation in an emergency situation involving imminent health risk.

Based upon the above requirements, I am not sure the police officers could justify driving through a redlight since they were not in pursuit of a criminal and not responding to an emergency call.

Even if the police officers in the above accident were covered by the exemption allowed in KRS 189.940, the law clearly states that this law shall not be interpreted to “relieve the driver of the duty to operate the vehicle with due regard for the safety of all persons using the street or highway.” Additionally, KRS 189.940(2) requires the officer when “approaching any red light or stop signal or any stop sign shall slow down as necessary for the safety of traffic. . . .” In the accident above, the police officers, if proceeding through a redlight, must slow down enough to make sure the intersection is clear. If they did not do that, then they can be held responsible for causing this accident.

On the flipside of an accident involving an emergency vehicle, the passenger vehicles have a duty to keep a lookout and listen to the sirens and see the lights and once seen to yield to the emergency vehicles. The particular circumstances of the accident will determine if the driver of the passenger vehicles violated their duties. If the lights were blocked by buildings or other structures, then the passenger vehicle cannot be held to have seen the lights. If the noise in the area prevented them from hearing the sirens or, perhaps, if they are hard of hearing or were wearing airpods, then they may not be responsible for hearing the emergency vehicles.

In many case, both the emergency vehicles and the passenger vehicles can both bear some responsibility for causing the accident. In this case, Kentucky law will simply apportion liability based upon the degree of fault attributable to each party. I recently had a case like this where an ambulance driver did not slow down when entering the intersection and the driver of the passenger vehicle was playing loud music which prevented him from hearing the sirens. The ambulance driver was agreed to have been 80% responsible and the driver of the passenger vehicle 20%.

Contact Kentucky Auto Accident Attorney!

The circumstances involved in the deadly accident described above will require the services of an experienced Kentucky auto accident attorney to investigate and locate all available evidence to determine liability and to maximize all insurance benefits available to the victim in this auto accident. Matthew Troutman, Kentucky auto accident lawyer, of the Troutman Law Office has been handling auto accident claims, almost exclusively, since 1986 and has the experience and talent to obtain the best result for the victims in the above car accident. It is very likely that the at fault driver will not have enough insurance to fully compensate the victim’s estate, and, therefore, it will be important for there to be underinsured motorist benefits available to the victims.

If you need legal assistance due to a motor vehicle accident, contact Kentucky auto accident attorney Matthew Troutman directly at 859-696-0001 or 502-648-9507 and he will meet with you in the hospital, your home or wherever is convenient for you. He will give you direct access through his cell phone and guide you through the difficult process necessary to obtain the best result possible for you in your car accident claim. To learn more about Kentucky car accident attorney Matthew Troutman and the Troutman Law Office, click here.