The Fire Department of Chula Vista, California is proposing to charge drivers who cause accidents requiring the services of the Fire Department. They estimate that approximately $100,000 is spent each year on the department's assistance in auto accidents. Each year, they respond to about 420 accidents which use their time and resources. By charging the drivers at fault, they can recoup a good chunk of their expenditures.
The City of Chula Vista claims that they think this is a fair since taxpayers wouldn't have to foot the bill for accidents that they didn't cause. The amount charged would vary depending on the severity of the accident and the amount of assistance required. The majority of car accidents would cost $435 while accidents requiring extraction from a vehicle would cost $1800, and a fire would run you $605. In the event that someone needs to be airlifted to a nearby hospital, the fee would jump up to $2100.
There are a few things that don't quite add up here. For one, most driver's are already cited at the scene of the accident by police officers for their negligence. For example, if speeding or an illegal lane change caused the accident, then they are fined for that infraction. So, people are getting charged in that regard. Also, taxpayers are already paying for unlimited fire department, medic and police services. Isn't responding to auto accidents part of the job description?
Members of the San Diego Taxpayer Association slam this proposed bill, calling it double taxation. Citizens would essentially be paying extra for a fee they've already paid for out of their tax dollars. As a Seattle personal injury lawyer, Kirk Bernard has seen countless accidents requiring the assistance of the fire department. I could understand if they wanted to create fines for things that are out of the scope of their standard practices, such as extracting a car from the bottom of a lake. But, they're proposing a fee for routine actions that they perform on a daily basis. If our taxes aren't paying for such things, then where is that money going?