CACI 731 Definition of Emergency (Veh. Code, § 21055)

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

731 Definition of “Emergency” (Veh. Code, § 21055)

An “emergency” exists if the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle is [insert one of the following]

[responding to an emergency call.]

[involved in rescue operations.]

[in the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law.]

[responding to, but not returning from, a fire alarm.]

[operating a fire department vehicle while traveling from one place to another place because of an emergency call.]

Directions for Use

This instruction is based on the language of Vehicle Code section 21055(a) and is only intended for cases in which there is a factual issue regarding whether the defendant was acting in response to an emergency at the time of the accident. (Washington v. City and County of San Francisco (1954) 123 Cal.App.2d 235, 241 [266 P.2d 828].)

Sources and Authority

Authorized Emergency Vehicle Exemption. Vehicle Code section 21055(a).

“Whether a vehicle is driven in response to an emergency call depends on the nature of the call received and the situation as presented to the mind of the driver and not upon whether there is an emergency in fact. The driver, of course, should have reasonable grounds to believe that there is an emergency.” (Gallup v. Sparks-Mundo Engineering Co. (1954) 43 Cal.2d 1, 5 [271 P.2d 34], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 358, 394–398
2 Government Tort Liability Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar 4th ed.) §§ 11.140–11.144