Ambulance case must go to a jury
Lashon Hagler sued the City of Pontiac and Aron Dean Lewis after striking Lewis' ambulance in an intersection where Hagler enjoyed the right of way. Lewis admitted failing to yield the right of way, but argued that he entered the intersection with lights and siren and gave Hagler enough time to avoid striking the ambulance. Hagler disagreed, and claimed that he didn't get enough warning of Lewis' attempt to dispute the right of way. He also claimed that the siren on the vehicle was not operating.
Lawyers for the City's insurer argued that right of way wasn't an issue because the ambulance driver was "driving in accordance with the standard of care" because he was using lights and siren as necessary. The City insurer's lawyers also made the frivolous argument that Lewis could not be responsible for negligent operation of the ambulance because he did not "cause" Hagler to strike him.The Court immediately rejected the latter, absurd argument, although it did not assess costs. With regard to lights and siren, it ruled that the trial court was correct in holding that whether the ambulance driver's actions were reasonable under the circumstances constituted a question of fact for the jury. The City insurers cited the statute authorizing ambulance drivers to break various traffic rules, but were attempting to read out of the statute the language requiring reasonable care in doing so ("as may be reasonably necessary...as necessary for safe operation...so long as he or she does not endanger life or property...").