Earlier in December there was a crash in Massachusetts between a Hyundai SUV and Jeep Wrangler. One was transported to a hospital where she died. The other was a Vermont resident but survived. The deceased is thought to be at fault for causing the accident. Subsequent to the crash, there were whispers that the EMT response may have been partly to blame for the death. Could her family members sue?
The Worcester, MA car accident is only an example. Not every accident is the same. Sometimes the EMT response requires certain actions that other times would not be necessary.
The most obvious thing to do if you believe you were injured by an EMT’s care is to call a personal injury or medical malpractice lawyer — your case could fall under either practice area. Your lawyer will have a number of questions, so it helps if you write down all the details before you make the call. Compile medical bills, witness statements, and write down what police and doctors said after the accident.
Were your injuries suggestive of the kind of accident you were in? That’s the main question your lawyer will want answered. It’s helpful that your insurance provider will want to answer the same one!
Here’s what you need to know before you make that call: an EMT (and most other healthcare providers) are immune from litigation when the services rendered were provided correctly and to the standard of care expected from a person who provides those services. That means you can’t just sue a healthcare provider because the treatment did not work! Generally, you must prove that a professional acted with negligence before you can sue for a personal injury. The same is true here.
Perhaps your EMT somehow breached the duty of care by performing an unusual action. Your wounds don’t require this type of service. Was that how the additional injury occurred? You might have a case.
Cases like these become even more difficult because the victim is usually unconscious when services are rendered. What do you remember? Write it down.
Good Samaritan laws usually apply to EMTs as well. These laws generally provide immunity to those who render aid to an individual in need. For example, if you were choking and a bystander performed the heimlich maneuver. The actions broke several of your ribs. You cannot then sue the good samaritan for personal injury — because that person was trying to save your life. When an EMT tries to help you, you cannot later sue because you would not have wanted the help. Your religious beliefs do not apply.
You can also sue an EMT for causing intentional harm (to you or a deceased family member) because this falls under the negligence umbrella. Like any other case, you must first prove that the EMT actually caused the harm willingly.
Obviously these are difficult claims to prove in court. But personal injury lawyers know how. Think you have a case? Make the call.