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Lake County personal injury attorneysIn order to reach the emergency as soon as possible, police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles may run red lights and drive in ways typically not permitted by law. Loud sirens and flashing lights alert the surrounding motorists to move over and make way for the emergency vehicle. While most motorists see the warning signs and safely move out of the way of  approaching emergency vehicles, others are not able to avoid the emergency vehicle and a collision occurs. A motorist may also hit something else while attempting to avoid an emergency vehicle.

Illinois Laws Regarding First Response Vehicles

Moving out of the way of first response vehicles is not only common sense, it is also mandated by law. Drivers are required to yield to any authorized emergency vehicle that is signaling an emergency. The driver is expected to pull over to the right side of the road and remain stopped until the emergency vehicle passes or the police directs the motorists to proceed.

Another law mandating motorists’ behavior with regard to first response vehicles is the “Move Over” law. The Move Over Law requires motorists to reduce speed, change lanes, and proceed with due caution when they approach an emergency vehicle stopped along the road. The law is also called “Scott’s Law” in memory of the death of Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department. Lieutenant Gillen was struck and killed by a drunk driver while providing aid at an accident site.

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Lake County personal injury attorneysWe have all been there: a fire truck is barreling down the street at high speed with sirens and horns blaring, but we are not quite sure which direction the fire truck is coming from or heading. We then see it just as we move over as required under the law, but others are not quite so lucky, as the next thing they know, is they either have been hit by the fire truck or they have hit something while trying to avoid the first-response vehicle.

Passengers in Accidents Involving Emergency Vehicle

If an accident occurs involving a firetruck or other emergency vehicle and you are a passenger in a car involved in the accident, you may have a legal right to seek compensation. How you proceed in seeking that compensation will depend on who caused the accident.

The first thing to be determined after an accident involving an emergency vehicle—after taking care of those who were injured—is whether this was a failure to yield accident or one in violation of the Illinois “Move Over” law. That finding will then determine the legal consequences to follow, if any.

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Illinois Scott's LawIt is a general traffic safety rule to pull to the side of the road whenever an emergency vehicle approaches. Each state has its own specifics when it comes to its “move over” law, but Illinois’ Scott’s Law mandates that when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying its lights, a driver must do all of the following:

  • Reduce speed
  • Yield the right-of-way by switching lanes away from the authorized emergency vehicle
  • Proceed cautiously with regard to safety

Scott’s Law was issued in Illinois in 2002, named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department. He was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while assisting a motor vehicle collision on an Illinois roadway. Drivers who violate Scott’s Law by failing to yield to emergency vehicles or causing accidents or injury to service personnel assisting at roadside emergencies face penalties, which include:

  • A minimum fine of $250 for a first violation
  • A minimum fine of $750 for a second violation
  • Driving privileges suspended for up to one year, but not less than 90 days, if another person’s property is damaged
  • Driving privileges suspended for up to two years, but not less than 180 days, if the violation caused injury to another person
  • Two-year driver’s license suspension for causing the death of another person

According to an article published by the Chicago Tribune, in 2014, a DuPage County driver was charged for violating Scott’s law in an accident that led to the death of an Illinois Tollway worker and the injury of a state trooper.

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