Local Emergency Vehicles Not Responsible in Wrecks

Potter County Commissioner Joe Kirkwood
Potter County Commissioner Joe Kirkwood

They say the law keeps them from paying their part but some local drivers disagree. A Potter County decision has some drivers upset.

Commissioners won't use taxpayer money to reimburse a man after an emergency vehicle struck his car. The commission says state law keeps the county from being financially responsible in that kind of accident. Randall County and City of Amarillo officials say if one of their emergency vehicles strikes your car during a response, they generally won't pay damages either...even if the wreck is their fault.

That's what some drivers say is flat wrong. If one of these vehicles hits your car in an emergency, chances are you'll end up with the full bill. "If we have emergency vehicles respond to an emergency and there's any type of accident... the county or the state or whoever cannot be held liable," says Potter County Commissioner Joe Kirkwood.

But drivers we spoke with find that hard to believe. "How can they not be liable for that? That doesn't make any sense at all. Under any circumstances," says driver Joe Louis. "The government should have something to back that up," says Robert Steele, who lives in Amarillo. "They should take some responsibility for that definitely," says another driver.

In a case before Potter County Monday, commissioners declined to pay tax money for five hundred dollars in damages to a private car. The accident happened to a man who had stopped to help in a motorcycle wreck last month. Instead leaders opted to dip in their own pockets for the money.

"We wanna reward him to say job well done and we want to get his vehicle paid for and the damages," said Kirkwood. That move also surprised drivers who tell us it would still be easier to just change the law.