The subject of emergency response time is a hot topic in San Francisco right now. Late last month, an ambulance responding to a car accident involving the wife of the mayor arrived after the 10 minute time standard set by the San Francisco Fire Department for that type of situation. The accident had Code Three status, which requires less than a 10 minute response. The ambulance arrived 14 minutes after the call went out. The mayor’s wife had minor injuries, and an ambulance took her to the hospital for treatment.

The fire department union blames the response time on staff shortages. The union has been demanding that the Fire Chief be fired. The mayor has asked that all the parties work together while he reviews the issue. He has set a deadline of October 14 to make a decision about what to do about the complaints.

When a call is placed to 911, it should be assumed that there’s an emergency. Help should be sent as quickly as possible. If there is a delay, that can mean the difference between life and death in a worst-case scenario. In order to sue for a delay in treatment, normally you must prove negligence. Negligence occurs when a party who has a duty of care towards you fails in that duty, and you are harmed as a result.

If an ambulance takes an unusually long time after a call goes out, and you or a loved one is injured as a result, you may have several parties who you can sue. The 911 service is typically owned by the county government. The ambulance service, however, can sometimes be  a private organization that contracts with the county, or may act independently. The hospital may also have a slow response time after a patient arrives. If a patient is harmed because of a slow response to a call for an ambulance, the patient may sue the county, the ambulance service, the individual EMT (if the EMT was negligent), the hospital, or all of the above.

However, in many cases it can be difficult to sue the county. Government officials and entities often have special immunity rules that apply that can make it difficult to sue the government or governmental employees. In many cases, it is best to sue all potential parties, especially if it’s unclear where the liability lies. There could be a lot of potential reasons the ambulance was delayed, which can be uncovered over the course of a lawsuit.

Some common reasons a person may sue an emergency responder or the county include a delay in treatment, negligent medical care, failure to properly stock equipment, and negligent hiring or training. In each of these cases, the injured party can most likely prove that one of the parties, or more than one party, was negligent in responding to the emergency call.

If you believe that you were the victim of malpractice in your emergency situation, you should hire an attorney to provide you with a consultation on your case. Such cases can be more complicated than others, because of all the potential defendants involved. An attorney can help you sort out the potential liability of each party involved.

If you believe that a slow response time in responding to your emergency caused you harm, call San Francisco personal injury attorney Micha Star Liberty at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients in the Oakland-San Francisco area, including Hayward, Fairfield, Tracy, San Jose, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. You may be entitled to damages for your medical expenses (both past and future), pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Call to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights.



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