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California bicyclist hurt by fire truck may have misread signals

Federal and state sovereign immunity laws protect governments from liability. Exceptions include a government's decision to waive immunity.

Los Angeles victims of traffic accidents caused by public employees may receive compensation for their injuries and financial hardships. The terms and conditions of liability laws that apply are usually restrictive, however. Any claim against the state of California or one of its entities is a dispute that requires sound legal advice.

A bike accident took place outside a Murrieta fire station recently. The young bicyclist was on his way to middle school when he was struck by a fire engine responding to an emergency.

The child's injuries did not appear severe to fire department officials, but the boy was hospitalized because his parents were not with him. The student complained of knee pain.

State troopers became involved in the investigation to provide a third-party viewpoint.

Murrieta Fire Department officials said a fire engine, with sirens and lights activated, was slowly pulling out of the fire station when the bike accident took place. The boy had been riding along a sidewalk. A police vehicle was at the scene as the engine prepared to turn into traffic.

A preliminary California Highway Patrol investigation found that the boy rode in front of the moving engine. An investigator speculated the bicyclist might have misinterpreted what firefighters wanted him to do. The child could have thought he was supposed to move forward instead of stop.

Government employees, including emergency personnel, cannot disregard public safety while performing their jobs. Even police involved in high-speed car chases after suspected criminals must use caution so that innocent victims are not harmed.

When a defendant's negligence is established, compensation follows in the form of damage awards. Although rules are strict for victims to recover damages from governments, success is still possible with the correct legal approach.

Source: murrieta.patch.com, "Bicyclist Struck as Murrieta Fire Engine Leaves Station" Maggie Avants, Nov. 18, 201 

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