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Holding a First Responder Responsible for the Death of Your Loved One

Blurred image of ambulanceThose who call 911 typically feel a sense of relief when first responders come to the scene and to their loved one’s rescue. They believe paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) will give their loved ones the help they need until they are eventually transported to the hospital. They usually don’t expect the first responder to exhibit negligence or make a mistake that will end their loved one’s life. Unfortunately, however, such a scenario can occur.

Common Mistakes Made by First Responders

EMTs and paramedics are first responders whose jobs are to provide emergency medical services at accident scenes. EMTs are trained to evaluate patients for life-threatening conditions and perform life-saving treatments until the patients are transferred to hospitals. Paramedics are EMTs with advance life-support training. Paramedics can administer medication, while EMTs cannot. Paramedics are also able to give shots and begin intravenous fluids.

The primary responsibilities for these first responders are:

  • Check for life-threatening conditions
  • Prepare the patient for transport
  • Provide safe and immediate transportation to the nearest hospital or medical facility
  • Take charge of the patient’s care until the ambulance arrives at the hospital

Although EMTs and paramedics are usually successful in helping patients and often save their lives, some can make mistakes that are fatal. Examples of such negligence include:
Failure to arrive at the scene in a timely manner

  • Reckless or negligent driving
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Lack of proper training
  • Lack of proper EMT/paramedic training
  • Failure to adequately staff ambulances
  • Leaving the patient at the accident scene
  • Failure to maintain ambulance equipment
  • Failure to bring necessary life-saving equipment to the scene
  • Neglecting to take a patient history
  • Failure to check airway, breathing, and circulation
  • Failure to create and preserve records of the incident
  • Acting beyond the scope of a paramedic or EMT
  • Failure to maintain ambulance equipment
  • Misuse or improper use of medical equipment
  • Administering wrong or inappropriate medicine or incorrect dosage

Why Sovereign Immunity Matters in Cases Against First Responders

You may want to hold the first responder responsible for your loved one’s death if you believe his negligence was the cause of it. While understandable, you may not be able to do so because of something called “sovereign immunity.” Typically, under Texas law, the federal and state government, its employees, and its officials are immune from being sued because of the sovereign immunity doctrine. First responders usually fall into this category, which prevents the public from making claims against them.

You may, however, file a claim against a first responder under the Texas Tort Claims Act. To do so, you must prove the first responder acted outside of the emergency-action law, and/or the first responder acted with reckless disregard of public safety. Then, you must prove your claim falls within the Texas Tort Claims Act or another waiver of immunity. As you may imagine, this can become a complicated process, which is why having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial.

Making a Claim Against a First Responder

Although you may not be able to make a claim against an individual first responder, you may still be able to hold someone accountable for your loved one’s wrongful death. With the help of an attorney, you may be able to sue the ambulance company for which the first responder works. However, you and your attorney would have to prove that the ambulance service acted in a negligent manner and that it directly related to your loved one’s death. You would also have to prove the four elements of a wrongful death claim.

We Want to Help Fight for Wrongful Death Victims’ Rights

Making a claim against a first responder or the company for which he or she works is a potentially difficult task. A variety of laws come into play, and knowing whom you can make a claim against is key. Hiring an attorney is the first step you’ll need to take. The legal team of Wayne Wright is well-versed in Texas law and may be able to help you with your situation. Schedule your appointment by calling 800-237-3334 and find out what we can do for you.