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New York Court Analyzes EMT Liability for Injuries Sustained During Transportation to the Hospital

People suffering from critical medical issues are often transported to the hospital by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) via an ambulance. EMTs are expected to employ reasonable care when transporting patients, and if they do not, it can result in injuries. In some cases, though, a person injured by the negligence of an EMT will be precluded from recovering damages due to New York’s laws regarding government-function immunity, as discussed in a recent New York opinion. If you were injured by an EMT, you might be able to pursue claims for damages, and it is smart to contact a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was being transported to the hospital by EMTs employed by the defendant city. During the trip, he unbuckled his restraints and jumped out of the ambulance. He subsequently suffered injuries. He proceeded to file claims against the defendant, alleging the negligence of the EMTs caused him harm. In response, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was immune from liability pursuant to the doctrine of governmental function immunity. After reviewing the motion, the court adopted the defendant’s reasoning and ruled in its favor, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff appealed.

EMT Liability for Injuries Sustained During Transportation to the Hospital

The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling on appeal. In doing so, it explained that pursuant to the doctrine of governmental function immunity, government actions that are discretionary in nature cannot form the basis of liability. Ministerial actions, on the other hand, may be grounds for imposing liability, but only if they violate a duty owed specifically to the plaintiff that is separate from any duty owed to the public generally.

The appellate court elaborated that a public employee’s discretionary actions cannot form a basis for imposing liability on a municipality, even if the employee’s conduct is negligent. In other words, a municipal defendant that proves it was engaging in a government function can escape liability if it shows the negligent act involved the exercise of discretion, despite the fact that the plaintiff has proven each element of negligence.

In the subject case, the appellate court noted that the defendant’s EMT employees credibly testified that they are trained to exercise discretion when responding to calls based on each patient’s unique circumstances and that they exercised their discretionary judgment in determining that the plaintiff should be transported to the hospital. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

It is not uncommon for people to suffer harm in the context of medical care, and in many cases, people hurt by medical providers can recover compensation. If you were injured by the carelessness of a health care provider, you should talk to a lawyer about your rights. The trusted Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and aid you in seeking the most favorable outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.

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