The men and women who work as paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) often are the first individuals to provide care and treatment to individuals experiencing a medical emergency. Most of these medical providers perform the necessary tasks well, but when there is a mistake that is made, it can lead to terrible consequences for the person who was harmed. It is possible to hold the wrongdoers accountable for the injury and its long-term impact.
One of the most critical things to consider when looking at bringing a lawsuit against a paramedic or EMT is that the laws vary from state to state, so it is critical to consult with an attorney who understands the specific rules and regulations of the jurisdiction in which the case would be brought. Regardless of the specific laws, it also is important to remember that a case may be based on inappropriate treatment, as well as an unreasonable refusal to treat that leads to additional or more severe harm.
As with other medical malpractice cases, it is necessary to demonstrate that the paramedic or EMT was negligent in his or her actions.
This means that the following must be demonstrated:
- The paramedic or EMT had a duty to provide care to the individual who was harmed;
- The medical provider breached that duty, either by providing negligent care or refusing to provide care that was required under the circumstances;
- The breach of duty resulted in harm to the patient – this harm must be different from the injury that would have resulted from the underlying medical condition that led to the necessity of treatment from the paramedic or EMT; and
- There is measurable harm resulting from the negligence.
The standard of care against which the paramedic or EMT will be measured is what another person with the same or similar training, knowledge, and experience would have done under the same circumstances. It requires the testimony of an expert to establish the relevant standard of care for the state in which the case is brought and then demonstrate how the actions of the defendant breached that duty of care.
Some of the differences between the laws of various states revolve around whether there is an element of gross negligence in the case against the medical provider. This means that the actions of the paramedic or EMT were so egregious as to qualify as gross negligence. An example of this might be when a paramedic is dispatched to provide care and treatment to a person who shows typical signs of having a heart attack, but the paramedic refuses to provide treatment for some reason. Ordinary negligence might be the legal standard when the paramedic did attempt to treat the heart attack victim, but used the defibrillator improperly, leading to increased harm to the patient.
There are some states where the standard to maintain a legal action against an EMT or paramedic is particularly high. In these jurisdictions, it only is possible to bring a successful case if the person who was harmed, or his or her family members, can demonstrate that the medical provider acted in a willful and wanton manner that led to the harm that was done. This is a very high hurdle to overcome, but it might be possible to prevail in this type of case when the paramedic or EMT made a decision not to treat a patient for non-medical reasons, such as discrimination against a person based on gender, race, religion, or some other basis. Even if it is possible that this happened, it may be very difficult to demonstrate that the reason for the EMT’s actions was discriminatory in nature. Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney may be the only way to get an answer about whether or not it is worth pursuing a case under these circumstances.
Stern Law, PLLC Advocates for Those Harmed by an EMT or Paramedic
There are many paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who perform their tasks to the best of their abilities, without breaching the medical standard of care, but when there has been negligence at this first point of treatment, it can have horrific consequences for the patient and his or her loved ones. It is critical to sit down with an attorney as soon as possible in order to learn about legal remedies that may exist.
For more than 30 years, the skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Stern Law, PLLC have worked hard to get negligence victims the compensation that they need to get the right medical care and accommodations to live their lives to the fullest extent possible. Stern Law, PLLC also has compassionate and dedicated staff members ready to provide information and resources for those who have questions about professional medical malpractice issues no matter the time of the day or night, even for those who are not clients. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.