A $410,000 settlement has been approved by the City Council of Columbus, Ohio, in the wrongful death lawsuit of an 86-year-old woman. The woman's son filed the suit, which alleged that the woman was wrongfully killed by a firetruck that failed to activate sirens or lights when going through an intersection.
The accident happened in November 2013. When the firetruck was dispatched, the woman was traveling south on Brice Road. The Columbus Division of Fire engine was headed west on Refugee Road when it went through the light at the intersection of Brice where the woman was driving. The firetruck hit the woman's vehicle at approximately 35 miles per hour. She was taken to the hospital and died one week later from injuries due to the accident.
The firetruck's driver swore in an affidavit that he activated an electrical siren in short bursts before crossing the intersection but did not activate the lights or the mechanical siren. While he acknowledged that traffic was heavy, the driver believed that he could safely cross unimpeded. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that not enough was done to warn the woman that an emergency vehicle was about to cross an intersection. The City of Columbus later filed for immunity in the case. While the 10th District Court of Appeals granted the city immunity, it said that the driver did not have immunity in the case.
All drivers, including those who operate emergency response vehicles, are responsible for being aware of other motorists. When a negligent driver causes an accident, a lawyer may be able to prove liability. In this case, the driver of the firetruck failed to adequately warn other drivers, which placed him at fault in the wrongful death lawsuit.