Looking After The People Who Look After Us: Employer Liability and Paramedics

Employers Liability for accidents at work

Every day ambulance drivers have to speed through traffic, cross busy intersections and even move through red lights, making split-second decisions that could mean the difference between life and death for the person in their care. 

But what happens if it’s the paramedic who gets injured? Who takes care of them when they’re taking care of us?

Challenging workplaces

Our emergency service workers operate in challenging situations, making it a high-risk job with potential for real danger. In fact,  figures published in the Irish Times confirmed that ambulances were involved in crashes more than 400 times over the past four years. While many of these incidents were minor, some were more serious, with paramedics suffering from a range of personal injuries. 

A recent article titled “Road Incident Caused Paramedic’s Work Injury” in the December 2023 issue of Health and Safety Review covered one example. In this instance, a paramedic by the name of Matthew Landy suffered significant injuries when “his ambulance driver was forced to brake suddenly to avoid a collision”. As a result, he was thrown from his seat onto the floor which caused an undisplaced fracture to his coccyx that continues to cause him pain. The case demonstrates how hazardous the working environment can be for paramedics and other emergency service operators. 

Employer’s duty of care

Under Irish law, employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees while they are at work. While some workplaces are inherently more dangerous than others — farms and construction sites, for example — all employers have responsibilities that include taking reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring in the workplace. In the case of paramedics, employers must take into account the unique risks and challenges associated with their work, such as the danger of being involved in a road incident while transporting patients.

This might include the installation of specialist seat belts, enhanced training or rigorous safety assessment. While no employer can eradicate every risk, they are expected to take reasonable care to identify and reduce the potential for dangers wherever possible.

Personal injury claims

If an employer was negligent in this duty of care and an employee is injured in the workplace, he or she may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and any related losses. This can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In order to claim compensation, the paramedic must be able to demonstrate that their employer was negligent in some way, such as failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the incident from occurring, and that this directly contributed to the injury. 

Irish law allows for personal injury claims against employers for workplace accidents, as demonstrated by the case of the injured paramedic. In this instance, Mr Landy sued the National Ambulance Service (NAS) and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) and was awarded €50,000 in damages. MIBI was included because the driver who caused the ambulance to brake suddenly could not be traced.

Learning from mistakes

By learning from past personal injuries litigation cases including Mr Landy vs. the NAS and MIBI, examining accidents and injuries statistics such as those below and understanding the legal remedies available, we can collectively work towards a safer working environment for those who tirelessly look after us in times of need. It is essential that employers take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees, particularly those who work in high-risk professions such as the emergency services. 

The injury rate for EMS workers (known as paramedics in Ireland) is about three times the national average for all occupations. These injuries aren’t just driving-related either; a list of injured EMS Workers Treated in US Hospital Emergency Departments demonstrated a wide range of causes:

1. Overexertion & Body Motion 24,900 28%
2. Exposure to Harmful Substances 24,400 27%
3. Falls, Slips, Trips or Loss of Balance 14,000 16%
4. Motor Vehicle Incidents 7,400 8%
5. Assaults & Violence 6,400 7%

Source: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), reported by Unitekempt

At HOMS Assist, we support the rights of all workers, advocating for better safety and welfare for all. Our work helps to protect the paramedics who dedicate their lives to protecting us. If you are a paramedic who has been injured in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and related losses. A statute of limitations does apply, though, so It’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you’re thinking of lodging a claim. 

Here at HOMS Assist we have a team of well-qualified personal injury solicitors in Ireland who can help you understand your rights and options when it comes to making a personal injury claim in Ireland. We can assist you in making a claim for compensation and gathering the evidence you need to support your claim, such as medical reports and witness statements. We may then lodge an application to the Injuries Resolution Board (PIAB) or issue court proceedings on your behalf.The first step is always to get in touch with any one of our experienced personal injury solicitors.

We’re on hand to talk you through your options and make sure you get the care you deserve.

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