Many times there are cases that seem confusing and hard to sort out. Someone is arrested for swallowing a large amount of drugs in an effort to conceal them, and dies when the police don’t provide medical treatment. The police, who saw the man swallow the drugs, were clearly negligent — but the man was both breaking the law and willfully swallowing a fatal dose of drugs. Where does the greater degree of fault lie?
Then there are cases like this one, in St. Charles, where a woman was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and suffered a broken arm during the trip. The ambulance crew admitted openly to the injury and what caused it. The woman, suffering from leukemia and Alzheimer’s, ultimately died as a result of the complications.
The break resulted from a near-accident in traffic. Disoriented and confused, she attempted to remove an IV from her arm en-route to the hospital. As the medic was attempting to restore the IV, the driver had to put on the brakes hard as the ambulance was cut off. Since the medic was holding her arm at the time, the shock of the braking broke her arm.
The woman’s husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and as a result of the ambulance crew’s openness, the case was settled a mere three weeks later for $50,000.
The details of the case are fairly awful. Her arm was never re-set after the accident, because her condition was too fragile for surgery. As a result, her last 20 days were very painful.
And yet, the woman’s husband, an 83-year-old veteran of WWII, says he isn’t bitter. He adamantly states that he doesn’t want people to be afraid to call the ambulance in the event of an emergency. He said his primary dealings were with the rescue district’s insurance carrier.
Once again, it is a sadly cut-and-dried case. The ambulance wasn’t properly under control, and it was the responsibility of the district to pay for the injuries and wrongful death. That said, the fact that they were so honest may have cost them the $50,000, and sadly might make other groups hesitant to be so forthcoming about their culpability.