You’ve been hurt, or you’ve gotten sick and you’re being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance when suddenly, the worst possible thing happens: the ambulance gets into an accident. You are already injured, and the accident in the ambulance can only make matters worse. When all is said and done, you’re in the hospital left with worse injuries and a massive pile of medical bills. You’re left to pay for both your initial injuries AND the injuries that incurred from the ambulance accident. You may be wondering who can be held responsible for your injuries from the accident. The answer may vary, depending on the circumstances.
When an ambulance accident happens, everyone inside is likely to get injured. If the accident occurs while the EMTs are administering treatment, this could seriously affect your recovery and your injuries. The impact of the accident can cause EMTs to create an error in their administration of emergency treatment, or it can cause you to develop new injuries. Who can be held responsible for this? Like most questions of tort law, the short answer is “it depends.”
In one Louisiana case, an ambulance was transporting a pregnant young woman to the hospital after she reported experiencing stomach pains. The ambulance was not using emergency sirens or lights en route to the hospital. The ambulance ended up rear-ending a sugar cane truck, critically injuring the woman inside. She suffered a severe spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injuries. Her injuries also led to a premature birth, though her daughter survived. The ambulance was traveling at speeds over 60 miles per hour.
The young woman ended up taking legal action. At the trial, some important and alarming facts came to light. According to testimony, the ambulance driver took his eyes off the road to reach down to obtain a GPS device that had fallen to the floor of the vehicle. While this action can undoubtedly be considered an act of negligence on the part of the driver, a much greater example of negligence was shown when the trial shifted attention to the ambulance company. Records of the driver’s career came forward, exposing a long track record of accidents and failures to meet the company’s minimum driving standards. This is evidence that the ambulance company knew about this driver’s inability to perform and had not taken any action. This horrible accident could have been prevented if the company had simply not allowed this driver to get behind the wheel of an ambulance. After the trial, the woman received $117 million in compensation for her injuries.
Ambulance accidents can lead to even more severe injuries and conditions than the ones you are being transported to the hospital for in the first place. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident in an ambulance, contact Gilman & Bedigian today.