In a recent Georgia car accident case before a state appellate court, the plaintiff filed claims arising out of a car accident that killed her husband and seriously injured her son. She filed a claim against the local Emergency Medical Services (EMS), alleging that they failed to properly treat her husband’s and son’s injuries. She also filed a claim against the local County Road Superintendent (Superintendent), alleging that he failed to inspect and maintain the road. Both defendants claimed they were entitled to immunity. The trial court agreed, dismissing the claims against them, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the court considered whether the defendants were protected by immunity.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s husband was driving with his 12-year-old son in Atkinson County when he hit a hole in the road, and after he regained control of the truck, he hit a second hole and crashed into a tree. EMS responded to the scene and found the husband trapped on the driver’s side, and the son seated on the passenger side. The son allegedly told one emergency medical technician (EMT) to check on his father who was unconscious, but the EMT told him that they had to “get [him] out first.” The EMT told the son to jump off the truck, and when he said he could not jump, the EMT told him that jumping was the way he would get off. The son did so, and “had to walk” to the stretcher. However, the EMT who assisted the son testified that he picked up the son, laid him onto a stretcher, and carried him to the ambulance. The father was unconscious but breathing, and was removed from the truck, but stopped breathing while he was in the ambulance. EMS tried to resuscitate the husband, but he died of his injuries.
If a lawsuit is filed against a public entity or a public official, the public entity or official may be protected by official immunity. A public official is protected by official immunity if the official “has engaged in discretionary acts that are within the scope of his or her authority, and the official has not acted in a willful or wanton manner; with actual malice; or with the actual intent to cause injury.” In contrast, official immunity does not protect against ministerial acts that are performed negligently. Generally, ministerial acts are acts that are “simple, absolute, and definite,” and require “merely the execution of a specific duty.” In contrast, discretionary acts are acts that “call for the exercise of personal deliberation and judgment,” and acting on one’s own conclusions “in a way not specifically directed.”
The court found the Superintendent was protected by immunity because there were no policy or directions on how to maintain the roadways, and that the Superintendent exercised his discretion to maintain roadways. However, the court found that EMS was not entitled to immunity. The court explained that EMS providers are protected for any damages that result from rendering emergency care in good faith to the person without remuneration. The court determined that the alleged negligence took place during the rendition of emergency services. However, the EMS billed the patients and the bill related to the provision of emergency services rather than the payment of an administrative fee. Therefore, EMS was not protected by immunity and the court reinstated the claim against EMS.
Contact an Atlanta Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in a Georgia car accident and you believe another person or entity may be at fault, contact an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney. At the McAleer Law Firm, we handle claims arising from serious or catastrophic injuries in a wide range of cases. We are prepared to fight to get you the compensation you deserve, including damages for lost wages, past and future medical expenses, and lost quality of life. Call us at 1-404-622-5337 or contact us online. Our consultations are free and you do not pay unless we recover money on your behalf.