This week, a Washington D.C. Superior Court judge dismissed a multimillion dollar wrongful-death lawsuit against the D.C. fire department. The lawsuit was filed by the family of a man who died of a heart attack while he was waiting for an ambulance that took some 30 minutes to arrive.
In the ruling, the judge affirmed the city’s motion to dismiss the case citing local sovereign immunity laws that shield District employees involved in “public duty” capacities from financial liability.
The lawsuit claimed the city was negligent by failing to provide a prompt response to the 911 emergency call for the 71 year old man who collapsed in his home.
The essence of the District’s defense stems from its protection from suit under a principle called Sovereign Immunity. The underlying premise, originates from the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that no one can sue the United States. This premise stems from the historical tradition that “No one can sue the King without his consent.” However, this prohibition is not absolute, and legislative bodies enact exceptions to the prohibitions. For example, the federal government has enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows individuals who endure personal injury to sue the government under limited, proscribed conditions. The point to the exceptions is to allow for legitimate claims when the government or its agents engaged in some sort of negligent behavior that cause harm.
Here, however, according to the judge the 30-minute delay in an ambulance either did not fall into one of the categories which allows for suit, or if it could arguably have fit within one of them, it did not rise to an egregious enough level for liability to attach.
Additionally, it is conceivable that there was a legitimate reason for the 30-minute delay. Perhaps no units were available, or there was heavy traffic, etc. Unfortunately for the man and his family, there may have been nothing that could have been done to get help to him more quickly.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced Washington D.C. area personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC immediately. Our attorneys have many years of experience in working with individuals and families who have suffered as a result of the personal injury or wrongful death of a loved one. Our dedicated attorneys have represented families who have suffered as a result of car accidents, medical malpractice, birth injuries, premises liability and other traumatic events. If you believe that your loved one died because of the wrongful or negligent actions of another, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen by calling 1-800-654-1949 or by visiting our website, in order to schedule your initial free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Veteran’s Hospital Delayed Cancer Screenings Linked to Death, Lawsuits Being Filed, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 19, 2013
Cloudy Pool Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 12, 2013