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Legal Liability Of Paramedics

We all rely upon the emergency medical system to be there when and if we need it. But what can we do if the paramedics sent to aid us fail to perform their jobs properly?

Paramedics and the city that employs them can, in some instances, be sued for their failure to locate and provide assistance to someone in need of emergency medical services. Under Illinois law, paramedics and their employers can be held liable for wrongful acts committed while providing emergency servicesonly if those acts constitute "willful and wanton misconduct." Willful and wanton misconduct is either intended to cause harm or committed under circumstances exhibiting a reckless disregard for the safety of others.

In one such case, the estate of a 911 caller sued the paramedics and the City of Chicago for wrongful death. A young woman had suffered an asthma attack in her apartment. She called 911 to request help. During the call, she told the dispatcher, "I think I'm going to die. Hurry." The dispatcher took her address but did not attempt to keep her on the telephone. Two paramedics arrived at the woman's apartment and knocked on her door but received no response. They concluded that they were not needed at the address and left. The woman was later found dead in her apartment.

The paramedics and the city argued that they were immune from liability and that the estate of the deceased woman did not have sufficient facts to overcome the immunity. However, the Illinois Supreme Court found that the estate of the woman had a valid case as a result of the paramedics' failure to find and render assistance to the decedent. The case was allowed to proceed to trial.

© 2011 Lucas Law

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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