A Maryland wrongful death action may be brought by the decedent’s surviving family members against the party or parties who are liable for their death. In a June 16, 2020 wrongful death case, the decedent died at the age of 21 as a result of cardiac arrest following an acute asthma attack. His parents and estate filed suit, asserting wrongful death and related claims against the county, as well as the paramedic and emergency medical technician (EMT) who assisted him. The case came before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland after the lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants.
Shortly before his death, the decedent began experiencing difficulty breathing while at a friend’s house. Responding to the 911 call for the decedent, the emergency medical service providers arrived on the scene and transported the decedent to the hospital, where he later died. The decedent’s survivors brought their wrongful death claim based on the defendants’ timing and propriety of their response. The defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment on grounds of immunity, which the circuit court granted. The appeal followed.
In Maryland, there are two laws that may provide a basis for immunity for paramedics and EMTs. Under the Good Samaritan Act, a person is not liable for any act or omission while giving medical care if they were not grossly negligent, the medical assistance was free, and it was provided either at the scene of the emergency, or through communications with someone providing emergency assistance. Under the Fire & Rescue Companies Act, the employees of a rescue company are immune from civil liability for any act or omission in the course of performing their duties.