On September 26, 2017, a New Jersey medical malpractice jury awarded over $6 million to the estate of a 20-year-old woman who died seven days after giving birth to a premature baby, after finding that the paramedic who transported the woman from home to the hospital failed to properly intubate her on February 3, 2012, leading to her death. The verdict includes $2 million to compensate her 5-year-old son for the loss of his mother, and over $4 million to the woman’s estate.
The plaintiff was required to prove that the paramedic failed to act in good faith in order to prevail in her New Jersey medical malpractice case. The eight-person jury decided 7 to 1 to compensate the plaintiff (i.e., the minimum number of New Jersey jurors required to find in favor of the plaintiff in order for the plaintiff to prevail).
New Jersey’s Higher Burden To Recover Damages For Injuries Caused By Paramedics
NJ RV Statutes Section 2A:53A-12 provides: “Members of volunteer first aid, rescue or emergency squads or national ski patrol system; liability for damages. No member of a volunteer first aid, rescue or emergency squad, or volunteer member of the National Ski Patrol System, which provides emergency public first aid and rescue services shall be liable in any civil action to respond in damages as a result of his acts of commission or omission arising out of and in the course of his rendering in good faith any such services as such member but such immunity from liability shall not extend to the operation of any motor vehicle in connection with such services. Nothing herein shall be deemed to grant any such immunity to any person causing damage by his willful or wanton act of commission or omission.”
NJ RV Statutes Section 2A:53A-13 provides: “Liability of member of volunteer fire company, authorized active volunteer, first aid or rescue squad worker providing emergency services. No member of a volunteer fire company, which provides emergency public first aid and rescue services or services for the control and extinguishment of fires, or both, and no authorized active volunteer first aid or rescue squad worker who is not a member of the volunteer fire company within which the first aid or rescue squad may have been created, doing public first aid or rescue duty, shall be liable in any civil action to respond in damages as a result of his acts of commission or omission arising out of and in the course of his rendering in good faith any such services, or arising out of and in the course of participation in any authorized drill, but such immunity from liability shall not extend to the operation of any motor vehicle in connection with the rendering of any such services. Nothing herein shall be deemed to grant any such immunity to any person causing damage by his willful or wanton act of commission or omission.”
The Underlying Facts
The young woman had gone to the hospital when she was 28 weeks pregnant at which time her baby was delivered by Cesarean section on January 27, 2012. Seven days later, while at home, the paramedics were called to transport the woman to the hospital. The woman required intubation, which the paramedics attempted but failed to properly perform, which was discovered when the woman arrived at the hospital. The New Jersey medical malpractice jury found that the paramedic who failed to act in good faith was 85% responsible for the young woman’s death, and that the remaining 15% was due to the woman’s pre-existing condition.
After the New Jersey medical malpractice jury rendered its verdict in favor of the woman’s estate, the plaintiff’s New Jersey medical malpractice attorney stated, “We believe that the verdict accurately reflects the value of the economic damages and the noneconomic damages in this case. Twenty-year-old girl, she was a beautiful and a wonderful person, and she left behind a 7-day-old kid. I think the verdict reflects, number 1, that they were very displeased with the medical care that she got by these paramedics. They found it unacceptable, and it rose to a higher level than just mere negligence. Obviously, we were happy with the verdict. It represents what I believe to be the only verdict against an advanced life support paramedic in the State of New Jersey.”
The New Jersey medical malpractice defendants have not indicated whether they intend to file an appeal.
If you or a family member were injured due to the medical negligence of a paramedic in New Jersey or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in New Jersey or in your state who may investigate your possible paramedic negligence claim for you, and represent you or your family member in a paramedic malpractice case, if appropriate.
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