Wallace & Graham

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Do You Yield to First Responders?

A recent decision out of North Carolina says that you should. In Cook v. Turlington, out of Mecklenburg County, the Plaintiff was rear-ended on his motorcycle when he stopped at an intersection to yield to a fire truck. The fire truck was coming towards the intersection with its lights flashing and the siren blaring. The Defendant was directly behind the Plaintiff; however, she claimed that she could not see or hear the fire truck. The trial court sided with the Plaintiff and the Defendant appealed.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court’s decision giving a verdict to the Plaintiff. The Court stated, “a green light is not a command to go, but a qualified permission to proceed lawfully and carefully in the direction indicated.” The Court also stated that N.C. drivers have a statutory duty yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles who are giving a signal with lights and audible bells or sirens. When yielding to emergency vehicles, it is also important that you change lanes safely after giving the proper signal.

Keep in mind the following three principles: 1) Don’t follow the car in front of you too closely; 2) make sure you pay attention and keep a proper lookout; and 3) yield to emergency vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner.

If you feel like you have been in an accident and the other driver did not follow these three principles, you may have a claim and should contact a personal injury attorney immediately.