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Hit By Emergency Vehicle in St. Louis

If your collision was caused by an emergency vehicle, you may still be entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured due to negligence.

According to Missouri state law, if you are the victim of a car accident, you are generally entitled to compensation from the at-fault party. However, if the other party is an emergency vehicle, then proving liability is not so simple.

Emergency vehicles can be ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, and similar cars. Their purpose is to respond to critical situations and provide aid. Because these matters are often very time-sensitive, legally speaking, emergency vehicles do not have to respect ordinary traffic regulations when responding to an emergency.

As such, emergency vehicles can go over the speed limit, run a red light, and ignore certain traffic signs when on an official call.

The Responsibilities of the Other Driver

Legally, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to police, fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles when these are using a siren. When drivers hear these signals and see the emergency vehicles in the rear mirror, they must pull over to the right edge of the road or as near the right as possible. If at an intersection, vehicles must drive through it and then pull over. Cars will remain in position until the emergency vehicles pass.

Emergency vehicles have the right of way, but only when they use sirens or air horns, which signals that they are responding to a critical situation and must proceed rapidly. If not, these vehicles must respect the traffic regulations like any other driver.

By that logic, two different situations can arise: being hit by an emergency vehicle while in action and being hit by one under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, liability and asking for compensation can be tricky in each case.

The Penalties for the Drivers Who Don’t Respect the Law

We have laws to keep people safe. The rules on the road sometimes seem more strict, but that’s because the risk of unpleasant incidents is quite high.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the state gathered a 75% injury rate per 100 million miles traveled in 2015 and a 1.2% death rate that same year. If you look at the data, these rates fluctuate considerably from year to year. That’s because the legislation changes to keep up with the times and make these accidents less frequent.

One such rule of law is Missouri’s “Slow Down, Move Over” provision, created in 2002 and expended in 2012. Its goal is to provide a safer way of passage for emergency vehicles such as police cars or ambulances, which are often required to ignore traffic regulations to respond to emergencies.

What Does the Law Say?

In a nutshell, drivers in Missouri must approach emergency vehicles cautiously whenever they display the red and blue lighting, signaling their active duty. The same principle applies to drivers approaching vehicles owned by the state highways and transportation commission. Drivers must change lanes away from the signaling car on a multi-lane road, but only if they can safely do so. If not, they must slow down to a safe speed to avoid disturbing traffic.


According to the Missouri statutes, breaking the Slow Down, Move Over law is automatically considered a Class A Misdemeanor.

If the violation is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor, the state imposes some standard penalties, though you should know that the context of the accident can influence the final sentence. Assuming no victims are involved and the driver’s only offense is breaking the Move Over law, the driver will receive a fine that will not exceed two thousand dollars and can even expect to spend up to one year in jail.

As you can see, breaking this law has some of the most severe penalties from the entire misdemeanor category. The reason behind these harsh punishments is to prevent drivers from disregarding moving emergency vehicles. Because of their line of work, police cars, ambulances, or fire trucks generally travel at very high speeds. As such, the impact of a collision can have even greater consequences than under other reasonable circumstances.

What Should You Do After a Car Accident?

If you are the victim of a collision with an emergency vehicle or a negligent driver, you should know that the steps to take are similar to those you would take in an auto accident. Stop the car, get out, check for injured parties, call authorities, and await their arrival.

The matters get tricky from here, so you should consider hiring an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney to represent you.

In any case, the victim bears the burden of proving negligence. Your St. Louis car accident attorney must acquire the evidence showing that the collision occurred because of driver negligence.

Even if the collision was caused by an emergency vehicle, you still have the right to compensation if you’ve been injured due to the other driver’s negligence. Call us today at (314) 361-4242 to learn more about what you may be entitled to.

Updated: May 9, 2024