Traditionally, funeral processions follow the path of the hearse from where the service is conducted to the cemetery. Nowadays, due to the inherent risks of many cars driving together down highways and through busy streets, there are laws in every state specifying traffic rules for cars in funeral processions and for vehicles, and pedestrians encountering a procession on the road.
Florida law regarding funeral processions includes the following provisions:
- Cars participating in funeral processions have the right of way. Only the lead vehicle (usually a police escort) must follow traffic rules. All other vehicles should follow as closely as possible, with their headlights on, regardless of traffic control devices such as stop signs and traffic lights.
- Only emergency vehicles may interrupt the flow of a procession. Except for emergency vehicles, all other traffic – motor and pedestrian – must yield to the procession. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to do so, and every year people are injured or killed in funeral procession accidents. On December 10, for example, an elderly driver in Miami failed to yield to a procession, and caused a pickup truck to swerve to avoid an accident. As a result, the truck struck one of the motorcycle officers leading the procession, breaking the officer's shoulder.
- Funeral homes are no longer liable. There was a time when funeral homes were liable for all accidents that occurred during the funeral processions that they coordinated, whether or not they were at fault. Since October 1, 1997, this is no longer the case. Florida law now specifies that, absent gross negligence or intentional acts of the funeral home staff, they are not liable for funeral procession accidents.
If you or someone close to you has been injured in a traffic accident related to a funeral procession, an attorney experienced in traffic accident litigation, particularly those involving multiple vehicles, can provide counsel and guidance. Our office specializes in personal injury cases and provides a free initial consultation for these and other instances of traffic related injuries.