First responders often have a tremendous effect on how well patients will recover from the trauma they have suffered or even upon whether they will live or die. Because EMTs and paramedics are typically the first to arrive at the scene of the emergency, they have to be prepared to respond quickly, know precisely what to do, have the proper equipment available, and remain clearheaded enough to triage injuries, working quickly and carefully simultaneously.
Though this is a tall order for anyone, most EMTs and paramedics are well-trained and perform amazingly well under pressure. Nonetheless, when you or a loved one suffers harm, at times irreparable harm, while at the hands of this type of healthcare professional, you have the right to sue for medical malpractice and to receive compensation for all that you have been through. If you are in New Jersey, the skilled personal injury attorneys at Nagel Rice are ready and able to help you navigate the legal complexities of a civil lawsuit. We have an excellent track record of success, having won millions of dollars for our clients in medical malpractice cases over the past 30 years. Our firm won a noteworthy $2.5 million settlement for the family of a patient who was not intubated promptly by emergency workers and became comatose as a result, At Nagel Rice, we are well aware that EMTs and paramedics are specially trained to provide rapid, accurate diagnoses to administer appropriate medical treatment quickly. When they do not do so, their inaction, negligence, or delay can cause patients to deteriorate rapidly. A moment of thoughtlessness or inattention can cause innocent patients their lives.
Medical Malpractice by EMTs and Paramedics
EMTs and paramedic malpractice may include:
- Delayed response by ambulances or first responders
- Failure by emergency workers to follow standard evaluation protocols
- Misdiagnoses of patient conditions at the scene or in the ambulance
- Inappropriate medication administration or failure to administer necessary medications
- Equipment failures of ambulances or medical devices
- Not having life-saving equipment (e.g. oxygen, naloxone HCl, or epinephrine) available
- Reckless ambulance driving or handling of the patient, leading to further injury
Very rarely, first responders may be impaired, or shirk their duty, not administering proper care.
In certain cases, it is someone other than the EMT or paramedic who bears the responsibility for malpractice in an emergency setting. Examples include situations in which:
- Dispatchers give incorrect information
- Ambulances are insufficiently staffed
- Emergency workers have had Insufficient training in the use of new equipment
- Doctors giving verbal directions by phone give incorrect instructions
In cases in which a third party is the cause (or partial cause) of an emergency scene medical error, that third party may be the defendant or co-defendant in your case.
Negligent Medical Care
The most common medical malpractice claim against EMS personnel arises from negligence. When Nagel Rice investigates your medical malpractice case, we look into whether first responders failed to take necessary actions, such as intubate a patient, use a defibrillator, to stabilize a patient on a backboard, or to administer necessary medication. They may also, of course, have administered the wrong medication or administered an unintentional overdose. It is also possible that the EMTs and paramedics misinterpret directions they have been given by doctors and make errors based on misheard instructions.
How Nagel Rice Investigates EMTs and Paramedic Medical Malpractice in New Jersey
Our efficient and effective personal injury attorneys seek evidence to confirm what we suspect went wrong in your case. For one thing, we are able to check recorded 911 dispatch tapes. For another, we can check noted observations and record the testimonies of dispatchers, ambulance workers, and doctors who have become involved in the case. As has been mentioned, those who were tasked with training emergency personnel may have been found negligent if they sent out their personnel without proper training in using defibrillators or administering epinephrine or Naloxone. Our investigators may also be able to obtain pertinent information from family members, other witnesses, or emergency room personnel relative to assess how well the patient has been cared for at the scene and during transit.
Affidavit of Merit
Our personal injury attorneys are always on the trail, examining exactly what negligence took place and what lasting harm it may have caused. We will also take care of filing New Jersey’s “Affidavit of Merit,” a necessary document that must be provided within 60 days of the defendant’s response to your lawsuit. The Affidavit of Merit is a required statement by a qualified healthcare provider in the field declaring under oath that there is “a reasonable probability that the care, skill or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the treatment, practice or work that is the subject of the complaint, fell outside acceptable professional or occupational standards or treatment practices.”
Compensation You May Receive for EMT/Paramedic Medical Malpractice
If you are a victim of EMT or paramedic malpractice, you are entitled, under New Jersey law, to basic types of damages: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are intended to reimburse you for quantifiable costs, including medical expenses, lost wages (present and future), ongoing disability and healthcare costs, and property damage. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are meant to compensate you for physical pain, emotional anguish, ongoing disability and/or disfigurement, and loss of your previous quality of life. This last item includes loss of consortium — the inability to retain previous levels of intimacy with loved ones. New Jersey law does not put a cap on either of these amounts.
With the help of Nagel Rice’s dedicated and diligent attorneys, you may also be able to receive punitive damages, though these are only awarded in cases of extreme negligence with long-lasting repercussions. If the EMTS drop you while carrying you on the stretcher and fracture one of your bones, thus prolonging and complicating your original injury, or if the ambulance driver drives recklessly, causing an accident that worsens your medical problems, you may be entitled to punitive damages, over and above the compensatory ones. Unlike other non-economic damages awarded in New Jersey, punitive damages do have a cap — $350,000 or five times the compensatory damages received, whichever is more.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in New Jersey
There is a 2-year statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in New Jersey. It is prudent to contact our experienced personal injury attorneys as soon after the incident as you are able, not only because of the statute of limitations, but because it is always best to collect 911 and ambulance recordings as soon as possible, and to obtain witness testimony before memories fade. Although the statute of limitations usually dates from the time the harm was inflicted, in some cases it extends to 2 years from the date on which you discovered, or could reasonably have been expected to discover, that you suffered harm as a result of the misconduct.
Contact an EMT/Paramedic Malpractice Attorney
If you have been through a medical trauma in New Jersey that was exacerbated by the medical mistakes of an EMT or paramedic, you have a great deal to recover from — physically, emotionally, and financially. Why not turn over the legal aspects of your case to our competent and caring attorneys? We are dedicated to bringing your medical malpractice lawsuit to a successful verdict or settlement, always focused on making sure that you and your family come away from the harrowing event with enough compensation to keep you well-cared for and secure for the foreseeable future. You can get in touch with us by phone or by filling out a contact form on our website.