Car and other vehicle accidents occur fairly often in Chicago and throughout the State of Illinois. In most cases, the accident can be attributed to the negligence of at least one of the drivers. The negligence can be caused by a number of scenarios, including a driver’s failure to pay close attention to the road, or one who pays too much attention to a cellular phone and gets distracted, or the driver who is found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. No matter what the reason for the negligence, the innocent victim in such an accident is entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. The best course of action is to contact a local injury attorney with a great deal of experience handling car accident claims.
In a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, the plaintiff brought a negligence claim against several defendants, including an ambulance service company, for injuries resulting from an automobile accident. Here, the plaintiff driver was heading eastbound on 95th Street in Oak Lawn on her way to a doctor’s office. As she attempted to make a left turn across three lanes of oncoming traffic, she collided with a private ambulance that was driving westbound in the lane adjacent to the curb. The vehicles in the other two lanes stopped for her as she began to turn. The ambulance did not.
According to the facts of the case, the private ambulance was making a nonemergency transfer of a patient from a hospital to a nursing home. As a result of the collision, plaintiff suffered a brain injury and is undergoing treatment and therapy. She brought this negligence action in Cook County circuit court, seeking damages against the ambulance driver and the employer-company.
In response to the lawsuit, the defense claimed that under the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act (the “Act”), they were immune from any liability. Any person licensed under the Act, “who in good faith provides emergency or non emergency medical services … in the normal course of their duties … shall not be civilly liable as a result of their acts or omissions in providing such services unless such acts or omissions … constitute willful and wanton misconduct.” Plaintiff did not allege willful and wanton misconduct.
While the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants, the appellate court reversed, refusing to find any immunity for defendants, noting that the Act should not be construed to immunize ambulance drivers from third party claims of negligence. The Supreme Court of Illinois further reversed and reinstated the judgment for the defense, holding that the Act does not limit immunity to patients in the ambulance. The court pointed out that the legislature was concerned that without this broad immunity, people would be deterred from becoming emergency workers or from performing their duties due to a fear of incurring liability.
There are many legal factors to consider when one is injured in a car accident. For instance, this decision impacts negligence actions that are brought under similar facts, under the Act. Thorough knowledge of Illinois law is a necessary component to bringing an action in this state.