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Illinois Ambulance Driver Not Immune from Liability for Brain Injury Resulting from Collision


In a case of first impression, an appellate court held that the Illinois Emergency Medical Services System Act (“EMS Act”) does not immunize drivers of emergency transport vehicles, such as ambulances, from liability to third parties injured due to the EMS driver’s negligence.

 

An EMS driver transporting a patient crashed into an automobile. The automobile driver was seriously injured, suffering a brain injury requiring ongoing treatment. The transport was a non-emergency so the ambulance did not have its lights or siren turned on.

 

In response to the automobile driver’s subsequent action, the ambulance company and EMS driver claimed immunity under the EMS Act, under which providers of emergency or non-emergency medical services are immune from liability resulting from acts or omissions in the provision of those services, in the absence of willful or wanton misconduct. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment.

 

On appeal, the appellate court held that the non-emergency transport of a patient is covered by the immunity provision of the EMS Act, but the immunity does not extend to the negligent operation of a motor vehicle resulting in injuries to third parties. To have held otherwise would render meaningless the state vehicle code's requirement that the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle drive with due regard for the safety of all other drivers. The summary judgment was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

 

See: Wilkins v. Williams, 2012 WL 955308 (Ill.App. 1 Dist.  Mar 20, 2012) (not designated for publication).

 

 

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