Most animal bite injuries involve dogs and occasionally cats. However, animals like horses can also cause serious bite injuries, which in one woman's case, turned fatal. Unfortunately, it wasn't just the animal bite that caused the accident to be fatal but it may have also involved negligent emergency room care.
Horse Bite and 9-1-1 Call
Barbara Johnson was an experienced rider and horsewoman. Johnson was at her stables, helping in the birth of a foal. According to a news report, the birthing mare became agitated and bit Johnson on the face. Johnson began to bleed profusely but was able to call 9-1-1 for help. An ambulance took Johnson to Cadillac Mercy Hospital for emergency care.
According to court documents, Johnson was treated by emergency medicine doctor Robert F. Kowalski. While Johnson was still suffering heavy bleeding, the doctor determined it was manageable through suctioning the blood as required. Dr. Kowalksi found Johnson's airway was open and she could breathe.
Johnson began to cry out for help that she could not breathe. Another doctor, anesthesiologist Dr. Charles Urse, tried to intubate Johnson, through inserting a tube down her throat to provide an open airway. However, because of the excessive bleeding, Dr. Urse found it impossible to insert the tube.
Dr. Urse and another doctor then inserted tubes directly into Johnson's lungs as she went into cardiac arrest. Johnson was eventually resuscitated but she suffered severe brain damage and never awoke from a coma. Five days later, Johnson died.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Medical Malpractice
Johnson's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor and hospital. The lawsuit alleged the medical team failed to timely intubate the patient and she was left bleeding while the doctor attended other patients before making sure she was stable.
There was some question whether Johnson was left alone before Dr. Urse arrived or whether both doctors were present when the patient was left in Dr. Urse's care. The family alleged Dr. Kowalski left the patient before Dr. Urse arrived.
Emails between Dr. Urse and the insurance company were excluded from the jury. However, an appeals court found that the emails should have been permitted for the jury to consider, as they gave a potentially conflicting story about what happened when Dr. Kowalski left the patient's care.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a personal injury claim, except that the injury victim did not survive the accident. When the victim is not alive to file a lawsuit, representatives of the deceased's estate can file a wrongful death claim for damages. Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can include:
- Funeral expenses,
- Burial costs,
- Medical bills and hospital care before death,
- Loss of support,
- Loss of consortium or companionship, and t
- Loss of the decedent's income and financial support.
Equine Injuries in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and DC
Equine accidents can involve fall injuries, trauma from a horse's kick, or bite injuries. If you have been injured in a horse-related accident, talk to an experienced Philadelphia equine accident attorney. The trial attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian are committed to helping injury victims and their families get compensation. To discuss your case with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today.