Legal Aspects Of Fire Protection Essay

1065 words - 4 pages

A firefighter responding to an incident in his or her personal owned vehicle must use the same due regard towards the public that he or she would if responding in a municipality owned vehicle. The lack of due regard resulted in a fatal vehicle accident on July 16, 2010, when “Firefighter Timothy Johnson of the Portage Ohio Fire District” collided with a vehicle driven by Olivia Duty, which resulted in the death of her boyfriend, Ian Huffman (Varone, 2012, para. 2). Timothy Johnson was responding to a mutual aid structure fire when the accident occurred (Varone, 2012). The parents of Ian Huffman and Olivia Duty, the driver of the vehicle Firefighter Johnson collided with, “filed a wrongful-death and personal injury lawsuit” with the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court (Feehan, 2012, para. 2). Firefighter Johnson additionally faced the criminal charges of negligent vehicular homicide and attempted negligent vehicular homicide, in which he entered a guilty plea and served 9 months in jail (Feehan, 2012).
In the civil suit against Firefighter Johnson and the Portage Fire District, the prosecution was charged with providing evidence that negligence by both parties had contributed to the death of Ian Huffman and the attempted homicide of Olivia Duty. Prosecutors allege “Mr. Johnson was driving his personal vehicle as fast as 98 mph on State Rt. 19 on his way to the fire station in Oak Harbor just seconds before he crashed into the rear of Ms. Duty's car at Portage River South Road” (Feehan, 2012, para. 6). The posted speed limit on Portage River South Road was 55 mph at the time of the accident (Curt, 2012). The defense alleges that Firefighter Johnson was using his lights and sirens and that Ian Huffman was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident (Curt, 2012). Ohio state law states that a driver of an emergency vehicle is not required to obey the posted speed limit, however the law also states that the speed limits not applicable law “does not relieve the driver of an emergency vehicle or public safety vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the street or highway” (Speed limits not applicable to emergency or public safety vehicles, 1975). The defendants reached a plea agreement and plead guilty to criminal charges related to the incident, which did not guarantee a determination of guilt relating to the civil matter, as the defendant must be proven negligent in his actions to be held liable.
In the civil case against Firefighter Johnson and the Portage Fire District the prosecution likely used the elements of negligence to show the defendants liable for the accident. In this case it is undisputable that Firefighter Johnson was operating his personal owned vehicle, which serves as the act. The omission occurred when Firefighter Johnson exceeded the speed limit and failed to show due regard for others on the roadway. The damages to the plaintiffs included the death of one party and injury and loss of a...

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