Emergency medical technicians and paramedics save a lot of lives working on the front lines of healthcare. Their roles are critical and the decisions they make at the scene of an emergency and transporting someone to a hospital can seriously influence long-term outcomes.
You might think then that these emergency medical workers are held to the same standard of care as any other medical practitioner, and you might be right in some cases. But state laws vary, and the question of whether you can sue a paramedic or EMT for injury will depend on a number of factors.
Whether you can sue will depend on state laws, who the responders worked for, whether it was a public or private entity and more. In some states, emergency responders who work for government agencies are protected from legal action by sovereign immunity, which the government can waive. So, the first thing to consider is the applicable state law for emergency responders.
Assuming that you are dealing either with a private service provider or are in a state that will waive immunity, the next step is to look at the law on medical malpractice. For the most part, a medical practitioner owes patients a duty of care and, generally, that duty of care is the same as the duty owed by any other practitioner in same or similar circumstances.
To recover for injury from negligent medical care a person must show that the caregiver breached a duty owed, and that the breach caused a compensable injury. Generally, if negligence is shown — meaning the medical practitioner fell below the reasonable standard of care under the circumstances — then recovering damages is likely. In other words, normally you only have to prove negligence on the part of the healthcare provider to win in a malpractice claim.
But some state limits recovery in suits against emergency responders to only situations where the responders were grossly negligent. In those situations, the responder’s negligence must be truly egregious or there will be no recovery. The plaintiff in such a case must prove more than negligence but an extreme disregard for the reasonable standard of care, resulting in injury.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you have been injured by a paramedic or emergency medical technician, do not try to decide on your own whether you have a basis for a lawsuit. Speak to a lawyer. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.
- Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury)
- Medical Malpractice: Who Can Be Sued? (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- First Steps in a Medical Malpractice Case (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Medical Malpractice: State Laws (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)