We are pleased to report that we recently settled a
personal injury claim for a very deserving client for $1,250,000.00.
On October 12, 2013, a non emergency transport company undertook transporting
our client to her home from the hospital. Our client had previously suffered
an unrelated injury which left her a quadriplegic and wheelchair bound.
While under the care of the non emergency medical personnel, our client
was dropped nearly eight feet vertically, down a set of stairs, on to
a cement pavement and onto her head.
Two purportedly trained and licensed paramedics attempted to carry her
up to her front door when the incident occurred. Both of these employees
made the conscious decision to carry our client up the stairs while in
a wheelchair not equipped or designed to safely climb stairs. As one employee
pulled up on the chair from behind, the other pushed up from the front.
During this reckless process, one of the non emergency medical transport
paramedics lost control of the wheelchair, and allowed our client to fall forward.
Instead of making any attempt to stop our client from falling or taking
any action whatsoever to break her fall, the other paramedic responsible
for her safety, completely moved out of the way and allowed her to fall
down the stairs and onto the cement ground. After her head and limp body
struck the cement, the paramedic that was above her proceeded to fall
down, and landed on top of her head with all of his weight.
Under Georgia Law the non emergency medical transport company is considered
a common carrier. "Common carriers as such are bound to use
extraordinary diligence, and in cases of loss the presumption of law is against them, and no excuse
avails them unless the loss was occasioned by the act of God or the public
enemies of the state." O.C.G.A. § 46-9-1. As stated by the Georgia
Court of Appeals in
Sheffield v. Lovering, 51 Ga.App. 353, 180 S.E. 523 (1935), a common carrier is "bound
to exercise extraordinary care and diligence for the safety of his passengers,
and it matters not the kind of conveyance used or the nature of the motive
Georgia law also provides that "[a] carrier of passengers must exercise
extraordinary diligence to protect the lives and persons of his passengers"
O.C.G.A. § 46-9-132. Extraordinary diligence "is that extreme
care and caution which very prudent and thoughtful persons exercise under
the same or similar circumstances;
the carrier is liable for slight negligence
Atlanta Transit System, Inc. v. Z.C. Hines, 138 Ga.App. 746, 227 S.E.2d 489 (1976).
Bricks v. Metro Ambulance Service, Inc. et al, 177 Ga.App. 62, 338 S.E.2d 438 (1985), the Georgia Court of Appeals held
that an ambulance is a common carrier. The Court also found that, in accordance
with O.C.G.A. §§ 46-9-1 and 46-9-132, where the carrier has
exclusive control of a sick, injured or dying person, it should be liable
for loss during the time of carriage of such goods and for personal injury,
except for acts of God and public enemies. In support of this finding,
the Court made the following observation,"
No individual is more at the mercy of a carrier than a person dying or
ill or injured enough to require carriage
. [Emphasis Supplied']
Immediately after the incident, our client was transported to the emergency
room for evaluation and was discharged shortly thereafter. Over the next
two days, our client began to exhibit the symptoms of a serious closed
head injury, including headache, nausea and vomiting and decreasing mentation
with confusion. On or around October 15, 2013, emergency medical transport
services were called for acute changes in her neurological status. She
was taken back to the hospital and was noted as unresponsive and unable
to follow commands. Her Glasgow Coma Score was 5
(assessment of neurological status-normal is 15).
A repeat CT Scan was performed which showed a very large Subdural Hematoma
("SDH"), which was causing a mass effect and shifting her brain
at least 14 millimeters
(over ½ an inch)
to one side and causing a partial herniation of her brain stem
a life-threatening condition.
Our client was taken emergently to the Operating Room and brain surgery
was performed by a neurosurgeon to remove the SDH and relieve the pressure
on her brain. Her diagnosis was a right SDH with mass effect and midline
shift of the brain. The surgery performed was a right craniotomy for evacuation
of the SDH, placement of a subdural drain and a temporalis muscle fascia
harvest for patch duraplasty
(repair of the dura, the covering on the brain). This necessitated removal and replacement of a portion of her skull. Our
client was intubated and placed on a ventilator to assist in breathing
and was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit after surgery.
Our client remained hospitalized for the next three weeks. Much of that
time was spent in the Intensive Care Unit. Her hospital course was complicated
and doctors were unable to wean her from the ventilator until the end
of October. She developed infections requiring IV antibiotics and anemia.
Her neurological status did not return to her previous baseline and she
had difficulty swallowing and was unable to speak. Testing found a severe dysphagia
(difficulty swallowing) with poor airway protection and a risk for aspiration
(inhaling liquid and food into the lungs). She also had to be placed on Keppra, a medication to prevent seizures
caused by the SDH.
After discharge from the hospital, our client returned home and care was
resumed by her family and the Visiting Nurses Association home health
care staff, including Physical, Speech and Occupational Therapy. They
noted that she had both impaired short-term and long-term memory. They
also noted that she was now unable to express even basic needs, was unable
to speak after brain surgery and could only nod "yes" or "no".
Our client also required suctioning at least three times per hour because
of her decreased mental ability and inability to swallow her saliva.
Over the next few weeks and months, our client continued to suffer from
problems caused by her head injury and hospitalization. However, somewhat
miraculously, our client made a very good recovery and ultimately stabilized
with little lasting effect neurologically. Here at Henningsen Injury Attorneys
we are happy to report that we were able to make a successful recovery
for our very deserving client.
Call us today to discuss how we can help you in a
free case evaluation.