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Maryland Court Affirms Dismissal of Malpractice Claims Against EMT Due to Lack of Evidence of Gross Negligence

EMTs and paramedics are often the first people to respond to calls regarding medical emergencies. Although they are not doctors, medical first responders are expected to abide by a certain standard of care and can be held liable when their reckless acts cause physical harm. Proving an EMT should be deemed responsible for injuries can be challenging, however, as illustrated in a recent Maryland ruling in which the court found that the plaintiff did not produce evidence of gross negligence, as required to recover damages. If you were hurt by the careless acts of a first responder, it is prudent to consult a knowledgeable Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to demonstrate liability.

The Defendant’s Pre-Call and Post-Call Behavior

Allegedly, the plaintiffs’ decedent, who was 21-years-old, was at a friend’s house when he began experiencing difficulty breathing. The friend called 911, and the defendant EMTs responded to the call. Tragically, the decedent died due to cardiac arrest following an asthma attack. Plaintiffs, the decedent’s parents, filed a lawsuit against the defendants and their employer. The lawsuit alleged in pertinent part that the defendants’ failure to respond to the call in a prompt manner and to aggressively treat the decedent’s symptoms once they arrived led to the decedent’s death.

It is reported that the defendants moved to have the plaintiffs’ claims dismissed via summary judgment. The court found that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate the defendants were grossly negligent as required under Maryland law and granted the motion. The plaintiffs appealed.

Proving Gross Negligence Under Maryland Law

In Maryland, the Good Samaritan Act and Fire and Rescue Companies Act both provide immunity to first responders providing care or medical assistance unless they act or fail to act in a manner that constitutes gross negligence. Gross negligence and simple negligence differ in that gross negligence is a deliberate failure to uphold a duty that is clearly owed, in reckless disregard of the fact that it could affect another person’s life. Gross negligence also suggests a careless indifference to the likely consequences of an action without any effort to avoid them.

A party alleging gross negligence faces a high evidentiary burden and must show that the defendant acted with reckless and wanton disregard for others. In the subject case, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants were grossly negligent due to their delayed response time and because of their lack of urgency once they arrived on the scene. The court disagreed, finding that there was insufficient evidence to suggest gross negligence on the part of the defendants at any time. Thus, the court found that the defendants were entitled to statutory immunity and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

It is critical that people experiencing medical emergencies receive prompt and competent care, and when they do not, it can lead to permanent harm or death. If you sustained a loss due to EMT negligence, you should meet with an attorney regarding your rights. The trusted Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can analyze what claims you might be able to pursue and help you to seek the best outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us at (410) 889-1850 or via the online form to schedule a meeting.

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