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Maryland Court Explains Gross Negligence in the Context of Paramedic Malpractice

Paramedics and EMTs often provide people suffering from critical health issues with medical assistance. Emergency medical professionals have broad immunity under Maryland law and typically can only be held liable for harm suffered by people in their care in cases involving gross negligence. In a recent Maryland opinion, a court explained what constitutes gross negligence and what a plaintiff must establish to recover damages from a paramedic in a case in which the plaintiff fell and broke her leg while walking to an ambulance. If you were injured while being treated by a paramedic, you could be owed damages, and it is advisable to talk to an attorney to discuss your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered an acute psychiatric incident that caused her to threaten suicide. Her caregiver called 911, and the defendant dispatched an ambulance to the plaintiff’s residence. Upon arrival, the paramedics evaluated the plaintiff and determined that she should be taken to a hospital for further treatment. When the plaintiff got to the hospital, she exited the ambulance without assistance and twisted her ankle, and fell.

Reportedly, the plaintiff suffered a fibula fracture in the fall and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the negligence of the paramedics that tended to her ultimately led to her harm. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims, arguing that numerous statutes rendered it immune. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.   

Establishing a Paramedic Was Grossly Negligent

The primary issue on appeal was whether the plaintiff could establish that the defendant’s paramedics were grossly negligent, as required for her to overcome the statutory immunities provided to the defendant. The appellate court explained that simple negligence merely constitutes any conduct that fails to meet the standard of care established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risks of harm. It does not include conduct that demonstrates a reckless disregard of the interests of others, however.

Gross negligence, on the other hand, is an intentional failure to undertake a manifest duty in reckless disregard of the risk of impacting another person’s life. It also demonstrates a careless indifference to the potential consequences without any effort to avoid them. Put another way, a person that intentionally causes harm, or is so blatantly indifferent to the rights of other people that it is as if they believe the rights do not exist, acts with gross negligence.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court did not err in finding that the evidence produced throughout the case would not support the assertion that the acts of the defendant’s paramedics constituted gross negligence. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Knowledgeable Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

Paramedics, like other medical professionals, have an obligation to provide competent care, but in some instances, they harm, rather than help, people suffering from emergency health issues. If you were hurt while receiving care from a first responder, you might be able to pursue a paramedic malpractice claim and you should speak to an attorney. The knowledgeable Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue any compensation recoverable. You can reach us via our form online or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a free meeting.

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