WPI 71.01 Emergency Vehicles—Privileges When Authorized
6 WAPRAC WPI 71.01Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
6 Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 71.01 (7th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
April 2022 Update
Part VIII. Motor Vehicles
Chapter 71. Emergency and Roadwork Vehicles
WPI 71.01 Emergency Vehicles—Privileges When Authorized
[[Plaintiff's] [Defendant's] vehicle was an authorized emergency vehicle.] When an authorized emergency vehicle is [responding to an emergency call] [in the pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law] [and if an authorized signal is being sounded] [and if the special lights on the vehicle are in operation] [when and to the extent reasonably necessary to warn pedestrians and other drivers of its approach,] the driver of the emergency vehicle is privileged:
(1) To park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of the law applicable to motorists generally;
(2) To proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;
(3) To exceed the maximum speed limits so long as life or property is not endangered;
(4) To disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.
These privileges granted to an authorized emergency vehicle do not relieve its driver from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons under all of the circumstances, including the circumstances of the emergency. [Furthermore, these privileges do not protect the driver from the consequences of any reckless disregard of the safety of others.]
The duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons means a duty to exercise ordinary care under all of the circumstances.
Except for the privileges enumerated and the conditions here set forth when those privileges may be exercised, the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle is subject to the laws applicable to other drivers.
NOTE ON USE
The first bracketed sentence of this instruction is to be used when the court can rule as a matter of law that the vehicle is an authorized emergency vehicle and is properly equipped with siren and special lights as required by statute. If factual questions preclude a ruling as a matter of law on this issue, use WPI 71.02 (Authorized Emergency Vehicle—Requirements) with this instruction.
Use WPI 71.06 (Emergency Vehicles—Nonprivileged Situations as a Matter of Law) instead of this instruction when the court is able to conclude as a matter of law that the vehicle failed to qualify as an emergency vehicle.
Select the bracketed phrase in the first paragraph that describes the particular type of emergency run involved in the case. The bracketed phrase referring to special lights should be used only when statutorily required or otherwise applicable. See Comment to WPI 71.02 (Authorized Emergency Vehicle—Requirements.)
Always use WPI 10.01 (Negligence—Adult—Definition) and WPI 10.02 (Ordinary Care—Adult—Definition) with this instruction.
RCW 46.61.035 and RCW 46.37.190.
RCW 46.37.380 contains the requirement that the siren shall be sounded when reasonably necessary to warn pedestrians and other drivers of the approach of the emergency vehicle.
The language in the instruction requiring the siren to be sounded “to the extent” reasonably necessary to warn other drivers of the approach of the emergency vehicle does not come from the statute. It is based on the holding in Hall v. King County Fire District, 67 Wn.2d 446, 408 P.2d 14 (1965). The court held that the question of whether an audible signal was given for a sufficient length of time prior to entering the intersection to afford the other driver a reasonable opportunity to yield the right of way is one of fact for the jury. Although Hall was decided based on an earlier version of RCW 46.61.210, this rationale would appear to be equally applicable under the current version of the statute.
Whether the vehicle is an authorized emergency vehicle and whether it is properly equipped with a siren and the special lights required by the statute for the particular vehicle usually will be a matter of law to be decided by the court. See Comment to WPI 71.02 (Authorized Emergency Vehicle—Requirements).
The general term “special lights” is used in the instruction because normally the jury will not be concerned with the type of lights required. The only jury issue will be whether the lights were in operation.
RCW 46.61.035(4) requires emergency responders making a high speed chase to act with due regard for the safety of others. The duty applies whether or not the police vehicle is directly involved in the collision. Mason v. Bitton, 85 Wn.2d 321, 534 P.2d 1360 (1975).
The third paragraph of this instruction is based on Brown v. Spokane County Fire Protection District, 100 Wn.2d 188, 668 P.2d 571 (1983), which reaffirms Mason v. Bitton, 85 Wn.2d 321, 534 P.2d 1360 (1975). Brown approved an instruction essentially in the language of WPI 71.01, including the paragraph stating that the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of others is governed by the standard of care set forth in the instructions on negligence and ordinary care. Brown, 100 Wn.2d at 193, 195. Pursuant to Brown, neither the privileges granted to an emergency vehicle by RCW 46.61.035(2) nor the requirement of RCW 46.61.210(1) that the drivers of other vehicles yield the right of way relieves the driver of an emergency vehicle of the duty under RCW 46.61.035(4) to exercise due care for the safety of all persons. Brown, 100 Wn.2d at 194.
[Current as of March 2021.]
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