Is Uber the New 9-1-1?

Uber Car Crash Lawyer

In November 2015, a Grand Rapids, Michigan man was shot and was bleeding heavily. Instead of calling 911, he called an Uber.

Slow ambulance response times and the astronomical service fees that follow, have many individuals taking matters into their own hands, or phones actually. Individuals in need of emergency care are now picking up their smartphones, opening their favorite ridesharing app, and instead of adding their local bar as their destination, users are requesting to be dropped off at the nearest emergency room. Uber, in particular, has responded to this trend by creating a non-emergency transportation application to help healthcare providers, Uber Health.

Distressed people find themselves waiting long periods of time for an emergency vehicle to arrive. These slow response times have caused life-threatening obstacles for many individuals. In 2013, “the city of Detroit had fewer than 10 working ambulances. A 911 caller with a medical emergency was likely to wait 20 minutes or more for help to arrive,” according to the Altarum Institute. In 2014, Detroit had seen some of its worst response times in decades. In January 2014, the average response time of Detroit's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was 18 minutes, as mentioned by, The Motor City Muckraker. But, the article also mentions that in 2015, The City of Detroit saw an increase from 12 to 25 EMS vehicles after Mayor Mike Duggan took office, and started an initiative to improve Detroit’s ambulance response time. The article also mentions that the initiative, which began in April 2015, saw response times surpassing the national average, dropping 10 minutes to 8 minutes and 30 seconds.

But even with improved emergency service response times, many individuals are still choosing ridesharing services over calling 9-1-1. Why? Ambulance rides are expensive! A deciding factor in choosing transportation for many individuals is how much it will cost them. People love Uber for the simple reasons that they can arrive at a destination quickly and without breaking their wallets. And when the price of an ambulance ride to the hospital can range from $600 to $1,000, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, it’s no wonder people prefer an Uber! According to the University of Kansas, “the use of Uber in cities across the country has reduced per capita ambulance volume by at least 7%,” likely because patients want to avoid the expensive ambulance ride with paramedics. The study looked at ambulance rates in 766 U.S. cities across 43 states from the time Uber was made available in the area from 2013-2015.

Although taking an Uber to the hospital may be much cheaper and at times faster, it might not be a medically sound decision to rule out an ambulance. A 5-star uber driver may provide bottled water and your choice of music but ambulances come equipped with trained professionals who provide life-saving care! Also, an emergency vehicle can legally impede traffic to race an individual to an emergency room, where ridesharing services cannot.

Detroit Car Crash Lawyer

While Uber does not encourage using their services in place of emergency care, they have recognized the need for more efficient and easy to use transportation in the medical sector, and have introduced Uber Health. According to Uber, “Uber health is a technology solution for healthcare organizations that leverages the ride hailing power of Uber platform... the app allows hospitals and other healthcare professionals to request, manage, and pay for rides for others, at a scale.” Healthcare organizations use Uber Health to allow patients to request or schedule a ride to and from their place or treatment, and for staff to get to and from work, 24/7. Uber Health is currently available in the United States everywhere Uber is already available. According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “services like Uber Health could help patients avoid missing appointments because of lack of affordable transportation.”

But it should be stressed again that Uber Health is not an alternative to calling 911, but rather an aid for healthcare providers to arrange higher quality transportation services for patients. Requesting ridesharing services instead of emergency vehicles because of slow EMS response times or hefty medical bills may put injured victims at a higher risk of not getting proper medical attention.


Calling an Uber to go to the ER for a paper cut is a better idea than calling an ambulance. But, taking an Uber to the ER after experiencing a heart attack may not be the best medical decision. No one likes going to the hospital or dealing with piling medical bills. The personal injury attorneys at The Michigan Law Firm, PC understand the frustration that injured victims feel and help them so they can focus on their recovery. Contact us at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

It's National Traffic Incident Response Week!

Most of us know to some extent that we need to slow down when an emergency vehicle is approaching, but do you know exactly what the law says? The Federal Highway Administration has declared the week of November 13-19, 2017, to be National Traffic Incident Response Week. The goal of the week is to raise awareness regarding the proper response when sharing the road with first responders. This week aims to remind drivers that they need to slow down and pull over, as well as help drivers be more aware of what laws their state specifically has in regard to emergency vehicles on the road. 

Michigan Car Crash Lawyer

According to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), traffic incidents are the number one cause of death for EMT/EMS responders, and one of the leading causes of death for police officers. Nearly 13% of police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty are killed in traffic incidents. OHS also notes that traffic incident managers often report that drivers simply are just unaware of the laws, in their state, regarding what to do if they are involved in an automobile accident. OHS suggests the following steps drivers can take in order to make the roads safer for first responders.

How Drivers Can Minimize First Responder Dangers

  • If you can steer it, clear it: After a fender-bender or crash, if (and only if) your car is driveable and there are no injuries, move your car to the shoulder or a nearby safe place off the road. Many drivers think they should not move their car until the police arrive and they can make an accident report, but this is false and can put drivers, their cars, and other people at risk.

  • Slow down and move over: When you pass by an incident scene and/or see lights, vests, or reflectors, slow down and move over. This provides a protective buffer for you, for emergency responders, and for the motorists behind you. You can get a ticket if you don't slow down and move over.

  • Drive safely: As always, drive sober and without distractions such as cell phones. Use your seat belt and stay aware of your surroundings.

Detroit Car Crash Lawyer

In the state of Michigan, there is a law on the books specifically regarding emergency vehicles. The Emergency Vehicle Caution Law, also known as the Move Over Law, applies to police, fire, rescue, ambulance, and road service vehicles.

Michigan Move Over Law

On Roads With Two or More Lanes of Travel in the Same Direction

  • When approaching a stationary emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated carefully move over into an open lane.

  • If this is not possible due to traffic, weather, or road conditions, slow down and pass with caution, allowing the emergency vehicle as much space as possible.

On Roads With One Lane of Travel in Each Direction

  • When approaching a stationary emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated carefully move over into an open adjacent lane.

  • If this is not possible due to traffic, weather, or road conditions, slow down and pass with caution, allowing the emergency vehicle as much space as possible.

Drivers who violate the law face misdemeanor penalties. This can result in 4 points going on the driver’s license and/or fees and fines of up to $150. If violation of the law results in injury or death of a police officer, firefighter, or other emergency response person, the driver could face 15 years in prison and/or a fine of $7500.

First responders are there to keep us safe, especially if we find ourselves involved in a motor vehicle accident. As drivers, we need to repay the favor by making sure that first responders are safe when they’re on our roads. Being aware of your state’s laws so you know exactly what you need to do is best for keeping first responders safe, as well as keeping you out of legal trouble. By keeping first responders safe, we're helping them keep us safe.


While first responders are there to keep us safe in the event of a car collisions, they can't prevent them from happening. If you have been involved in an automobile accident call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation  with an experienced accident attorney today.