A long-married Wisconsin couple knew they were preparing to say good-bye. He a retired newspaper publisher and she a former university home economist and school food service director, the couple met in college, enjoyed successful careers, raised four children together and enjoyed traveling and their 12 grandchildren in their golden years.
But he’d been enduring a long battle with cancer, and the hospital said there was nothing more they could do. Arrangements were made for him to spend his final days in hospice care. His wife of 62 years rode in the ambulance beside him. On the way, the ambulance driver, who was allegedly speeding, slammed on the breaks to avoid a collision with a driver who had suddenly stopped in front of him. The wife, who was not properly secured in a harness, pitched forward and struck her head on the interior of the ambulance. The 85-year-old suffered grave head and spinal cord injuries as a result.
She was transported immediately to a local hospital. According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by one of their sons, the mother awoke briefly, in great pain, and was aware of her condition and prognosis. It wasn’t good. She died the next day. Her husband, meanwhile, was taken to hospice, where he too learned his wife was seriously injured and could not be by his side, as they’d planned. In his final hours, he asked for her repeatedly. He died three hours after his wife.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges the ambulance driver was negligent and reckless by speeding and failing to maintain an assured clear distance from vehicles ahead. The action also names the emergency medical technician who accompanied the couple during that ride, for failing to ensure the wife was properly secured in her seat before they left the hospital.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the son who is representing both estates is seeking compensation for injuries and other damages.
Investigators with the local police department did not cite the ambulance driver with any traffic violation at the time of the incident. However, that isn’t always a surefire indicator of negligence. Law enforcement officers are called upon to make relatively quick judgments about issues of fault and may not have all relevant evidence. Police reports often aren’t admitted as evidence in civil cases – particularly portions that make conclusions about fault – unless the officer is available to testify at length as to how those determinations were made.
Rock Hill injury lawyers know there are many cases in which emergency responders, such as EMS workers, paramedics, police officers and firefighters, are afforded a great deal of discretion in the course of their jobs. Just because someone suffers a poor outcome as a result of an encounter with one of these workers by no means guarantees a successful legal case. But in a situation like this, where there was no dire emergency and where ambulance workers had a duty to ensure passengers were safe and the vehicle was operated with great care, there are significant questions about the manner in which this transport was carried out.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Lawsuit filed over fatal injury caused during hospice transport, Nov. 26, 2015, By Ed Treleven, Wisconsin State Journal
More Blog Entries:
Stensland v. Harding County – Liability for Dangerous Road Conditions, Dec. 7, 2015, Rock Hill Wrongful Death Lawyer Blog