Two police officers are injured and a civilian driver is dead following a collision in east Houston involving the officers’ patrol vehicle. An investigation into who is at fault in this incident is still under way.
According to Houston authorities, a collision occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 21, involving one patrol vehicle and a black Cadillac XTS.
The two officers sustained non-life threatening injuries and were “a little banged up”, according to authorities. The driver of the Cadillac died at a local hospital following the crash.
The collision occurred as the officers were traveling westbound on 7300 Ley Road on their way to respond to a weapons disturbance call in the area. Meanwhile, the civilian driver was traveling southbound on Darien Street.
The crash remains under investigation, and authorities had not determined which driver was at fault at the time of reporting.
Emergency-Vehicle Involved Crashes By the Numbers
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), accidents involving vehicles are the leading cause of death amongst on-duty law enforcement officers in the U.S. In fact, these sorts of deaths account for more than 40% of all on-duty police deaths.
However, this fact makes it even more alarming that the majority, 56%, of deaths caused by car accidents involving emergency vehicles–primarily police patrol vehicles–impact the occupants of the non-emergency vehicles involved in these crashes.
Roughly another 15% percent of these fatalities are of pedestrians and bicyclists. The drivers of the emergency vehicles and their passengers, in comparison, accounted for just over 25% of the fatalities.
Of course, any death is a tragedy, especially in instances in which those deaths could have been avoided. However, this disparity does show the importance of being cautious and vigilant when driving near police vehicles, and in general when on the road.
What You Can Do
In Texas, there are laws in place regarding the proper behavior drivers ought to take when sharing the road with emergency vehicles. In particular, if an emergency vehicle is approaching with its sirens or appropriate signals engaged, you should move over to the right as far as possible and stop until the vehicle has passed.
If you are passing a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights running, you should move away from the lane closest to the stopped vehicle–giving as much space between you and the emergency vehicle as possible–and slow down, 20 miles under the speed limit in areas with speeds of 25 miles per hour or more.
While it is rare for government workers like police officers or ambulance drivers to be held liable for car crashes because of sovereign immunity, it isn’t an unheard of circumstance. If they were negligent in their pursuit, deliberately put the public in danger, and/or acted outside of the scope of their duties, victims can process an administrative claim with the appropriate government department.
It is important to file the claim as soon as possible, as there is a short window where you may be eligible to file. If the claim is denied, you’ll need an experienced attorney to help you find the financial relief you need.
If you’ve been involved in a car or truck accident in Texas that involved an emergency vehicle, contact the Houston car accident attorneys of Lapeze & Johns for help finding a path forward.