From the selected case, this paper is of the opinion that the case would most likely be tried in a criminal court and not a civil court. According to FindLaw (2017), civil cases normally involve private disputes between organizations and persons. On the other hand, criminal cases normally involve an action believed to be harmful to a society. For instance, state governments may arrest and then prosecute persons believed to be violating laws because society believes them as serious offences which can bring harm to others. Therefore, from the selected, it will be tried in a criminal case because the accusations labeled against the drivers borders reckless disregard of traffic laws which led to the death of another driver.
Before beginning preparing for the defense, the three questions that personnel involved in the accident should answer include the following:
- Were you licensed to drive the emergency service vehicle?
- Were you intoxicated by any prohibited drug while driving the ambulance?
- Do you have a valid driving license?
The general statutes of North Carolina chapter 20-1157 outlines the law in regard to approaching vehicles belonging to the fire department, law enforcement, ambulances, rescue squad among other emergency services providers. subsection (a) states that upon the approach of any emergency service vehicle when travelling in response to an emergency or a fire alarm, while giving appropriate warning signals with audible siren, bell or exhaust whistle and light, and which under normal conditions are audible from a distance not less than 1000 feet away, every other vehicle’s drivers immediately shall drive their vehicles to a position parallel and near as possible to the curb or right hand edge, clear of highways or street intersections, or shall remain in a such position or stop unless otherwise directed by a traffic officer or law enforcement officer until the emergency service vehicle shall have passed. However, tis provision shall not apply to the vehicles travelling in the opposite direction to the emergency vehicles, on a limited access four lane highway having a median divider that divides the highway for vehicles travelling in opposite directions. This sub section further state that violation of this subsection shall be negligence per se (NCGA, 2017)
The general statutory 20-125, and 20-130.1 enumerate the special lighting and warning that the emergency vehicles may use. Furthermore, general statutory 20-145 states that the speed limit are not applicable to the vehicles used for emergency and law enforcement purposes. The provision reads as follows:
“The limitations of speed set forth in this article shall not be applicable to vehicles when being operated during safety under the police direction in the apprehension or chase of law violators or person suspected or charged with any such violation, nor to the patrol vehicles or fire department when travelling to respond to a fire alarm, not to rescue squad emergency service vehicles and private or public ambulances when travelling to an emergencies, nor to the vehicles being operated by civil preparedness coordinators and county fire marshals when travelling in their duties performances, nor the vehicles being operated by the employees, agents and officers of the North Carolina Utilities Commission and are duly authorized when travelling in their duties performance in checking and regulating speed and traffic of vehicles subject to jurisdiction and regulations of North Carolina Utilities Commission. However, this exemption shall not protect any driver of the above-mentioned drivers from consequences of recklessness and total disregard of the safety of other people (Edmisten & Melvin, 2017).”
The general statutory 20-125(b) provides the right of way exception rule to the private and public ambulances, fire department vehicles and the police vehicles and other vehicles the paper have enumerated above under the general statutory 20-125 and 20-130.1. The provision reads as follows:
“The driver of a vehicle on a highway shall give the right of way to emergency service vehicles when the operators of these vehicles are giving appropriate warning signal by exhaust whistle, siren, bell or light which is audible from a distance up to 1000 feet away under normal conditions. This provision, however, shall not be operational to relieve the drivers of these emergency vehicles from the duty of driving when observing the safety of other people using the highway, nor shall not protect the drivers of these emergency service vehicles from the consequences of any arbitrary such right to way exercise (Edmisten & Melvin, 2017).” Therefore, from the scope of the North Carolina state laws in regard to operation of emergency vehicles, it will significantly impact the outcome of this case.
There is no doubt that the personnel involved in the car accident was aware of these laws regulations and this can be demonstrated in different ways. First, the driver could not be lowed to drive an ambulance without proper interview to authenticate his credentials. This implies that he was given the job after passing all the necessary tests and proved that he knew all laws and regulations concerning operation of emergency service vehicles. Second, in North Carolina, institutions often implement occupational safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines to reduce motor vehicle accidents among employees. Therefore, it is evident the driver knew and fully understood these regulations.
- Edmisten, R., & Melvin, W. (2017). Legal Opinions. Ncdoj.gov. Retrieved 10 September 2017, from http://www.ncdoj.gov/About-DOJ/Legal-Services/Legal-Opinions/Opinions/Motor-Vehicles;-Use-of-Special-Warning-Equipment;.aspx
- FindLaw. (2017). Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases – Key Differences – FindLaw. Findlaw. Retrieved 10 September 2017, from http://litigation.findlaw.com/filing-a-lawsuit/civil-cases-vs-criminal-cases-key-differences.html
- NCGA. (2017). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. Ncleg.net. Retrieved 10 September 2017, from http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_20/GS_20-157.html