Can I Sue an EMT or Paramedic?
Published in Car Accidents,Liability on March 17, 2020.
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT) provide invaluable life-saving services as first responders to car crashes and other accidents. These individuals make life-saving decisions every day as they address critical injuries and transport people in need of emergency care.
We assume EMT’s are held to the same standards as other practitioners, such as doctors and nurses. That is often the case. However, laws regarding EMTs and paramedics differ from state to state, and there are a variety of factors at play to determine whether or not you can sue an EMT or paramedic in case of injury.
Factors at Play
Your ability to sue an EMT for damages depends on State laws, as well as the responder’s employer (public or private entity). Some states provide protections for emergency medical personnel who work for government agencies, for example. Knowing the law for your state is an important first step in determining your legal options.
If the EMT or paramedic caused your injury works for a private service, or a public agency in a state willing to waive immunity, the next question is where they negligent. Like other medical malpractice lawsuit, you must show that the person who treated you breached his or her duty of care.
Duty of Care
Duty of care refers to a medical practitioner’s legal obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care when performing an action or treatment compared to the potential harm to the patient. In order to show negligence of the EMT or paramedic, you show he or she breached a duty of care in treating your emergency, leading to your injury. If you can show that the responder breached a duty of care, it’s likely you’ll be able to recover damages – but establishing a breach in duty of care can be tricky.
There are a variety of ways in which EMTs and paramedics can be negligent in the performance of their duties as emergency first responders. These include:
- Failure to respond to an emergency quickly
- Failure to bring all required equipment
- Failure to maintain precise records
- Improper use of medical devices
- Inappropriate or incorrect administration of medication
- Failure to maintain appropriate certifications
- Improper staffing of medical emergency vehicles
- Negligent driving on the way to the hospital
For example, say an ambulance is called to the scene of an emergency and takes too long to arrive. The patient could die or suffer lasting injury as the result of an accident. The doctors who treated the patient, or other medical experts, might testify that the patient would have lived, or not had such extensive lasting damage, if he or she had arrived at the hospital faster. If the patient or his or her family can prove that the ambulance team could have arrived at the hospital sooner than it did, they may be entitled to damages for negligence in this case.
Likewise, if a patient is injured while under the care of a paramedic or EMT who hasn’t maintained the appropriate certifications, he or she has a very good case to sue for damages due to negligence.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you feel your injuries are the result of negligence on the part of an EMT or paramedic, don’t try to figure out if you can sue for damages on your own. An experienced attorney can help you determine the strength of your case. Many personal injury attorneys will happily provide a free consultation to assess your case.