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Family settles lawsuit against Florida paramedics

The survivors of a woman who died after paramedics failed to take her to the hospital settled a lawsuit on Dec. 10 that they had filed against Palm Beach County The woman, aged 35, had been previously diagnosed with pneumonia and had a 102-degree fever. Her family stated that the paramedics were again called the next day and she was transported to the hospital but she later died.

County documents indicated that the woman began to feel unwell in late December 2013. She went to a local hospital after experiencing breathing problems. She was given medicine and then sent home. On New Year's Eve, paramedics were called to her home but did not transport her to a hospital. By the time paramedics came the next morning, she had stopped breathing. A medical examiner ruled that she died from influenza pneumonia.

The documents did not indicate why the paramedics did not transport her when they were initially called. The family ultimately settled for $250,000 after asking for approximately $2 million as a trial could have potentially taken up to two years. The county reportedly did not admit liability in the settlement, which was approved on Dec. 10.

If a family member dies after medical personnel or emergency personnel refuse to take them to a hospital, a wrongful death lawsuit may be potentially filed against the county or the company that is responsible for the emergency transportation service. Funeral and burial expenses are often sought in such a lawsuit as well as other damages. An attorney can often help the family reach a settlement in order to avoid a long trial and potential appeals.

Source: My Palm Beach Post, "Palm Beach County settles wrongful death claim against paramedics", Eliot Kleinberg, Dec. 20, 2015

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