Can an EMT or Paramedic be Liable for Death or Injury?
If you want to see an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic hard at work, all you need to do is turn on the nightly news. Video footage of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, crime scenes, and accident sites often include EMTs and paramedics rescuing victims, providing emergency aid and comfort to the injured, and transporting them to nearby hospitals. In fact, as first responders, the work of these professionals is often so compelling that they have long been dramatized in movies and television shows.
There’s no doubt that EMTs and paramedics provide a service to society that saves and improves many lives. But what happens when an EMT or paramedic makes a mistake that causes injury or leads to another person’s death? Can the person be held liable?
We’ll answer that question in this article.
The Importance of EMTs and Paramedics
EMTs and paramedics provide emergency medical and rescue services in a variety of settings. In 2016, 248,000 individuals were employed in these fields. And with continued population growth, increases in motor vehicle accidents, an aging population, and natural disasters, the need for such services will only increase.
In fact, the United States Department of Labor projects employment to grow at a rate of 15 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is much faster than most other professions.
Paramedics and EMTs may be asked to provide many services, including the following:
- Provide oxygen
- Perform CPR
- Remove victims from dangerous circumstances (such as car crashes and natural disasters)
- Prepare victims for transportation to the hospital
Paramedics receive additional training, and may be asked to undertake more advanced activities, such as:
- Give IVs
- Administer medicine
- Conduct airway management activities
Where Can Paramedic and EMT Negligence Occur?
By the very nature of the fact that EMTs and paramedics are often first responders, their services can be required almost anywhere.
Just consider all of the places that you commonly observe ambulances and emergency medical personnel: in roadways at crash scenes; at the locations of natural and manmade disasters (such as fires); inside schools, public buildings, and private offices; inside the ambulance while stationary or during transportation; at senior living homes and nursing homes; at or near hospitals and other medical facilities; and in or near private residences, such as houses, condominiums, and apartments.
What Constitutes Paramedic or EMT Negligence?
As with all professionals, the law usually requires EMTs and paramedics to act reasonably and exercise due diligence. When mistakes are made, injury and death can occur.
Thus, if a paramedic or EMT has a duty of care to an injured person, he or she must meet the applicable standard of care by acting as a reasonable or prudent EMT or paramedic would act under the same or similar circumstances. If there is a failure to meet this standard of care and the patient is injured as a result, the injured party can pursue compensation.
It’s important to note that in some circumstances, Oregon provides emergency personnel with extra protection by requiring that the injured party prove gross negligence. The attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield can help you understand when this extra protection applies.
There are many ways in which an EMT or paramedic might act negligently, including the following:
- Administering an incorrect drug
- Administering the correct drug, but in an incorrect dosage
- Failure to comply with training procedures
- Failure to respond promptly to an emergency
- Incorrect usage of equipment or medical devices
- Performing unauthorized actions
- Improper diagnosis
Call with Questions
If you’ve been injured as a result of the negligence of an EMT or paramedic, we know you probably have questions about how to investigate and pursue your rights. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are familiar with the applicable laws and would be happy to answer your questions.
We appreciate the importance of all medical and emergency personnel, but we also believe that society can only be properly protected when all professionals meet the appropriate standard of care. Please call us with your questions.