A man and woman were severely injured in a Los Angeles car accident after a sheriff’s department patrol car struck their vehicle at a street intersection. According to a City News Service article, the collision occurred near La Brea and Hawthorne avenues in West Hollywood, during the early morning hours of December 3, 2011. A video news crew reports that the sheriff’s sergeant went through a red light while responding to a call and crashed into the victims’ vehicle. The man and woman in the car were critically injured, while the officer sustained relatively minor injuries. It is not clear if the patrol car had its emergency lights on at the time of the accident. An investigation is ongoing.
My thoughts and prayers are with the man and woman who were seriously injured in this Los Angeles car accident. I wish them both the very best with a complete and speedy recovery.
Los Angeles Car Accident Statistics
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), three people were killed and 235 were injured in West Hollywood car accidents. During that same year, 554 fatalities and 50,817 injuries occurred as a result of car accidents in Los Angeles County.
Collisions Involving Emergency Vehicles
Based on this news report, it appears that the sheriff’s deputy ran a red light, but it is not clear if the vehicle’s emergency lights and/or sirens had been switched on. According to California Vehicle Code Section 21806: “The driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right-of-way and shall immediately drive to the right-hand edge or curb of the highway, clear of any intersection, and thereupon shall stop and remain stopped until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed.”
In this incident, the exact nature of the emergency to which this officer was responding, is not clear. Officials have only said that the deputy was responding to provide back up for another deputy, but have refused to divulge specific details about the back up call. If the emergency vehicle did not have its lights or siren on, the authorities will have to determine if the driver, in this case the sheriff’s deputy, failed to obey the rules of the road. It is a traffic violation to run a red light under California Vehicle Code Section 21453 (a). I also hope that a neutral third party is conducting the investigation here, since one of the motorists involved is a police officer.
If the sheriff’s deputy in this case is determined to have caused this major injury collision, he and his employer can be held liable for the victims’ injuries, damages and losses. Injured victims in such cases can seek compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation and other related damages.
Victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, who will ensure an objective investigation is being conducted and fight hard to protect the victims’ rights and best interests. Please remember that any personal injury claim against a governmental agency is California must be filed within six months of the incident.