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CA Court of Appeal Affirms EMT’s Protection Under MICRA

In a lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles Police Officer injured while accompanying an arrestee being transported by ambulance, the Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s decision that the ambulance driver was protected by the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA).

Officer Randy Canister was injured during the ambulance ride when the ambulance hit a curb, alledgely to avoid a car while enroute to a hospital. Canister was not wearing a seatbelt. Immediately following the accident, Canister provided a written statement which stated that he had not worn a seat belt as a “tactical” decision. He later recanted that statement and claimed that he did not know the ambulance had seatbelts and no one told him.

530378_ambulances.jpgCanister claimed that Emergency Ambulance Service (EAS) was operating the ambulance negligently, and that driving the ambulance was not within the scope of protection provided to emergency health care providers under MICRA.

EAS presented evidence that all ambulance drivers in California, including the one driving at the time of this accident, must have special licenses issued by DMV to operate an ambulance. EAS also presented relevant case law and precedent illustrating that driving an ambulance was within the definition of “professional services” protected by MICRA.

In the opinion by Justice Madeleine Flier, the Court of Appeal rejected Canister’s argument, concluding that EMTs are healthcare providers, and that any negligence by EMTs in driving an ambulance constitutes professional negligence.

Some cases simply should not be appealed and this was one of them.

Every good trial attorney knows which of his/her cases should go to trial,

which should not and which decisions should be appealed. Most litigators do not know. Further, a good trial attorney will make strong recommendations to clients about appealing a court decision. Some of us will even refuse to appeal a case if it has no chance of winning.

There are cases that need to be appealed and those that should not be. If you are not sure if you should appeal a decision, or even if your case merits a trial, contact SO&L today. There is never a charge for an initial consultation.