As a nation, we rely on emergency service providers — 911 operators, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and others — to assist us in our time of need. When they fail, can they be held accountable?
Sometimes, yes. Merely failing to rescue someone isn’t a criminal act. Rescue efforts fail all the time, even when everyone tries their very best. However, when an emergency service worker’s negligent actions (or inaction) leads to someone’s death, the victim’s survivors may be able to pursue a claim for wrongful death.
What sort of actions by an emergency service provider could lead to a wrongful death claim? Consider these:
911 operator errors
What happens if a 911 operator doesn’t take seriously someone in desperate need of assistance? There have been cases where 911 operators mistakenly thought that a caller was playing a prank and failed to send help.
Other times, 911 operators failed to follow standard operating procedures designed to eliminate confusion and make sure that paramedics, police officers and firefighters get to the right place. When a squad gets sent in the wrong direction, people can die.
Ambulance driver errors
Ambulance drivers have a responsibility to get a patient in critical need of medical care to a hospital. But they sometimes focus more on getting to their destination quickly than they do safely.
When an ambulance driver causes a wreck by not taking basic precautions on the road, the patient might not survive.
Emergency medical technician (EMT) mistakes
Not every EMT service is the same. Some private companies may put profits before patients. When a technician lacks appropriate training and skill but is sent out on a call anyhow, it can lead to a patient’s death.
These are just a few examples of the way that first responders can end up causing someone’s wrongful death. If you believe that your loved one could have been saved but for a first responder’s negligence, an attorney can assess the merits of your case.