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Altercation between car accident responders raises concerns


People in San Diego may have heard about a car crash that occurred on northbound Interstate 805 earlier this month. While a wreck like this may not be terribly uncommon, what occurred in the wake of the accident was truly remarkable.

Rescue crews from the Chula Vista Fire Department arrived to assist the crash victims, parking their fire engines alongside the crash site. But then, a California Highway Patrol officer asked them to move the fire engines to a different location. When the driver of one of the fire engines refused to move, the police officer took the controversial next step of handcuffing him, while local news crews filmed the entire incident.

The fallout from this incident has been embarrassing, to say the least, for area police and firefighters. Attorneys and spokespersons for the firefighters claim the Highway Patrol officer’s conduct was inexcusable. But the incident could prove to be more than a mere black eye to the Highway Patrol’s reputation; there could be some serious liability issues as well.

While the officer was arresting the firefighter, the rescue of the victims was still underway. It might therefore be claimed that the officer interfered with the victims’ ability to get necessary and lifesaving medical attention. One of the car accident victims was, in fact, rushed to a hospital for treatment of injuries.

Any form of interference with emergency responders in the wake of an accident is a serious issue, whether it be by police as in this unique case or, as is more likely, other drivers or parties to the accident. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, victims could potentially bring a civil suit against such an interfering party if the interference results in damages suffered or even loss of life.

Source: CBS 8 “Officials: Dispute between CHP officer, firefighter an ‘isolated incident’,” Feb. 6, 2014