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Fault assumed in crash with ambulance

Karen Caruso in ambulance collision
Karen Caruso

A female rider seriously injured in a crash has been assumed by the insurance company to be at fault simply because she collided with a paramedic ambulance.

Max Caruso claims his wife, Karen, was turning right on a green arrow from Burwood Highway into Springvale Rd at Vermont South at 11am on September 28 when the paramedic’s Ford Territory t-boned her 899 Ducati.

However, their insurance company is adamant it was Karen’s fault because it was an ambulance that hit her, he says.

Max is now chasing eye witnesses who can verify Karen was turning on a green signal.

“We’ve had three witnesses come forward with one being directly behind Karen and they also entered the intersection,” Max says.

“Fingers crossed, Ambulance Victoria now come clean with their story.”

Ambulance Victoria says the paramedic vehicle was on its way to an emergency call, but has not stated if the MICA vehicle had its emergency lights and sirens on.

Karen Caruso was hit by an ambulance
Karen on her Ducati

“Details have become increasingly difficult to obtain,” Max says.

“We believe it’s due to an ambulance being involved.

“Neither Victoria Police nor Ambulance Victoria are sharing a solitary scrap of information.” 

In fact, neither emergency service even notified next-of-kin Karen was in hospital with severe injuries.

Max only found out about the accident 3½ hours later through their Ducati club, Melbourne Ducatista, when two friends tagged him and Karen checking on their safety.

Karen Caruso was hit by an ambulance
Karen and fellow Ducatisti, Nick

Exemplary record

He says his wife has an exemplary riding record, has taken two courses to increase her skills since getting her licence and was wearing all the correct riding gear, as usual.

However, she still sustained substantial injuries: broken hand, hip, leg, cheek and nose, slashed artery in her neck, multiple broken ribs, and partial amputation of her left foot.

She has since had multiple pins and plates inserted throughout her body.

“The road to recovery is going to be long and steady, maybe four weeks in the Alfred Hospital and possibly a few months in rehab,” Max says. 

“Our saving grace is pretty much everything from the waist up is ok.  She is pretty tough and very strong willed which is going to be her biggest asset over the next while.”

Max is still asking for anyone who witnessed the crash to contact him.

(Editor’s note: The term “collided with” in the first paragraph does not legally apportion any blame. It simply means both vehicles were moving at the time.)

  1. The police and ambulance service need to come clean. Understand that they have legal advice on liability issues but how do they expect other to come forward on maters if they themselves do not uphold what is just. Its pretty simple to establish if the ambulance driver was going to a legitimate event and had their lights/sirens on. Pretty certain official vehicles still have exhibit reasonable care when not following normal road rules. The damage the service most possible caused will effect the lady and others for the rest of her life.

  2. The way I understand the law is that although people are expected to give way to an emergency vehicle if it is using its warning device’s (lights & sirens), it is not law and if you have entered an intersection with right of way, the emergency vehicle must give way until your vehicle can safely move out of its way.

    1. Er, no such thing as “right of way”. It’s not in the traffic act. It’s your responsibility to extend right of way to others dependent on the signs, signals and markings that you face.

      1. Right of way may or may not be a legal term but it does not have to be specified as to do so is most often redundant. When a vehicle is required to give way to another vehicle then it is deemed that that vehicle has right of way, full stop! Claiming that because it’s not mentioned in the road rules that a vehicle has right of way therefore it doesn’t have it is one of those things that lawyers get beaten to death over.
        But on a side note anything that can kill you always has right of way.

        1. And involvement in an incident where it can be argued that the collision was potentially foreseeable and therefore avoided by all parties is where the insurance legal vultures lurk. This why it is not in the traffic act. You NEVER have right of way, implied or not. Discussion over.

  3. Firstly, I wish all concerned a fast & full recovery; the rider, the witnesses, the paramedic, and all family and friends involved – it will be a tragic and trying time for you all.

    But, I would make a few points from my reading here…
    – AV has not stated if their vehicle had emergency lights and sirens on… and neither has the rider? (according to this article)
    – “…neither emergency service even notified next-of-kin Karen was in hospital with severe injuries…” I actually thought this was normally a hospital task, not one for Ambulance or Police, so perhaps discuss this with them. Not necessarily an easy task to identify NOK if your patient is in life-/limb-saving surgery.
    – In terms of “Coming Clean” and “Releasing Information”, I am sure that you will find that there are legal requirements (esp for Govt Depts) and documented processes that are in place to obtain the information that has been mentioned, under the Vic FOI Act (1982) – pretty sure there’s even a webpage devoted to it; there are also stated response time-frames from submission of requests that must be adhered to. If it is an incident under investigation, then there are laws that cover that too, I believe.
    – (@qian) There are no cameras in ambulances, but pretty sure there are Red Light / Speed Cameras at that intersection.

    – And finally, it is the INSURANCE COMPANY that has automatically attributed fault to the rider, yes, not anyone else?
    Not VicPol?
    Not AV?
    I would love to read which Insurance Company next time there is an article like this, as it would certainly influence my future choice of motorcycle (& other) insurance provider.

  4. Unfortunately organizations like ambulance imagine they are sacred , when I was a hospital intern I had many trips with patients in the backs of ambulances , some drivers were always on their sirens and horn and lights , while others calmly and smoothly just got there. Unfortunately almost all seemed to think that merely because it was an ambulance the rest of the traffic should pull aside that somehow it was the look out of others to avoid them.
    The ambulance here would have known from the get go the severity of her injuries and the substantial liability they have which is why the obfuscation.
    Unfortunately there appears substantial maleficence amongst ambulance , police and insurers , I can understand the gain for ambulance and insurer but the police??? Unless it is the general antipathy for motorcyclists .

  5. Without witnesses it’s going to be a tough gig. As far as emerg vehicles go flashing lights mean nothing, it’s a siren or repeating horn. An emerg vehicle may proceed through a for example, red light, If It Safe To Do So. It would seem, this was not safe. Many times ambos and police will go code 1 with no siren, only giving it a burst at intersections.. Any good lawyer should get a payout for this me thinks. Oh try F.O.I for the radio transcript of the call, they are all recorded and kept. Find out what code the ambos should have been going, type of casetand listen to the radio transmissions after collision. May help appoint blame.
    Now, we all love our ambos and don’t want to get me a kick up the arse but they are working on behalf of ambulance Victoria, they will be footing the bills not the individual. Good luck, best wishes to a fellow rider

    1. It would appear there are witnesses?
      “We’ve had three witnesses come forward with one being directly behind Karen and they also entered the intersection,” Max says.

      Also, not quite the same but some cops hit my grandmother once and treated her like she was the criminal. She was turning right at an intersection, had slowed down, was indicating, and they overtook her just as she was turning. Side-swiped her and hit the front heavily enough to point her car in the direction of traffic again. They didn’t even stop at the time, kept going to their emergency. Fair enough if it was a bad emergency I guess, but she’s 80 years old and it was all up to her to ring the local Police station and sort it out. It took weeks, months to get anywhere with it, to get information, to get payments, admissions of fault etc. The Police administration didn’t give a shit, tried to fob her off, ignore her, eventually she went through a solicitor.

  6. I saw this incident, I was behind the rider, but I stopped because I saw the mica unit coming. It’s unfortunate for all involved.

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