Civilian warriors. Guardian angels. Front line heros. Just some of the names we bestow to express our admiration for our tireless community First Responders. But even in life and death emergencies, where split second decisions rule the day – there is always a place for temperance.
And it was the lack of temperance – coupled perhaps with an excessive dose of well intentioned exuberance- which piled tragedy upon tragedy over the roadways of rural Montcalm County this week.
Medical first responder Richard Wayne Pierce, age 70, of Pierson, was racing to the scene of a reported personal injury car accident. To his credit, Pierce had his emergency lights and flashers activated. It is unknown whether a siren was activated.
The First Responder came to an intersection, disregarded the stop sign and crashed into a vehicle driven by Max Leroy Young , age 74, of Lakeview. Riding as a passenger in Young’s vehicle was Shirley Marie Narlock, also of Lakeview. Max Young was seriously injured. Shirley Narlock was killed.
For the injury victims and their families, all that is left is to pick up the pieces. And that process includes the pursuit of justice. A long row to hoe, indeed.
Since the only form of justice that the civil courts can dispense is money, the families will soon find themselves pitted against the insurance companies. On the front lines of that dispute are the insurance defense lawyers – advising the insurance companies every step of the way, on how to minimize or completely thwart the survivors’ claims.
Common sense tells the average person that Max Young was completely innocent of wrongdoing, and that the First Responder caused the automobile accident.
“Not so fast” says the insurance defense lawyers. First, there is the little matter of a concept commonly known as ‘the rules of the road’. And the primary rule in play under these circumstances is the requirement that a driver must yield to the right of way of an oncoming emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights and flashers.
“Right back at you” says the victim’s personal injury lawyer. Yet another rule says that a driver who has the right of way at an intersection LOSES the right of way if he is speeding.
Checkmate? Maybe. Until the results of the Accident Reconstructionist’s investigation are in, the speed of the vehicle at the intersection remains unknown. And it is at that juncture where the skills of an experienced personal injury attorney san mateo ca become indispensable.