Nervous shock claim against ambulance lands successfully resolved for $85,000

PUBLISHED 13 May 2014

Our client wanted to make a nervous shock claim against The Ambulance Service of New South Wales (first defendant) and a local hospital (second defendant). Although our client wanted to be compensated for the injuries sustained as a result of the negligence of the defendants, she did not want the legal process to be long, tedious and expensive. This is why our client approached Gerard Malouf and Partners. We are a highly focused and passionate firm. Our client’s case was assigned to Christine Beshay, one of our senior solicitors who specialises in medical negligence claims and practices in nervous shock claims. Christine’s experience in the nervous shock field enabled her to deal with the personal matter in a prudent and efficient way. Christine ensured that the client was aware of what was going on, and did not feel lost in the legal terminology.

Our client suffered nervous shock when the first defendant failed to provide adequate care to her sister (the deceased). The first defendant was booked to provide emergency ambulance and transportation services to our client’s sister. On arrival at the deceased’s home, the deceased was showing signs of cardiac arrest. She was hyperventilating, clammy, vomiting, feeling sick in the stomach, had a headache and hypotensive. The first defendant negligently misdiagnosed our client’s sister as suffering an anxiety attack. The first defendant failed to take any observations or provide treatment against the risk of cardiac arrest. The first defendant declined to remove our client’s sister urgently and directed her to control her breathing before she was helped to walk to the ambulance by her father. The deceased was taken to the hospital and directed to await triage. Our client’s sister stopped breathing whilst seated at the emergency department of the hospital.

Upon opening the file, Christine and her team worked efficiently to obtain the relevant clinical notes of our client’s sister and our client. They also arranged for our client to see various doctors and psychiatrists, to determine whether there was any medical negligence and whether our client suffered from a recognised psychiatric illness. Upon obtaining this information, and upon being satisfied that there were reasonable prospects of success, Christine began drafting the legal argument.

In the Statement of Claim, we alleged that the negligence of the first and second defendants caused our client’s sister’s death, and our client’s nervous shock. We submitted that the first defendant breached their duty of care by failing to place our client’s sister on a bed for triage, for failing to record vital signs and for misdiagnosis of the cardiac arrest as an anxiety attack. We submitted that the second defendant breached their duty of care by failing to perform a prompt and adequate primary survey of our client’s sister’s condition. They also breached their duty by failing to recognise the seriousness of her condition, and failing to take steps to prevent cardiac arrest from occurring. We submitted that both parties failed to comply with the standards of rational peer profession opinion as to competent professional practice in breach of section 5O of the Civil Liability Act, 2002.

Further, we submitted that our client suffered nervous shock upon learning of her sister’s death. Such a death was avoidable and would have been avoided had the defendants not been negligent.

Initially, the defendants denied that any of their conduct caused harm to our client and denied that our client suffered loss and damage. They also submitted that they acted in a manner that was widely accepted in Australia by peer professional opinion as competent professional practice such that they were not liable for any compensation claimed.

However, due to the strength of our legal argument, the defendants sought to settle the matter outside of court. Although their initial offer was $30,000, after some negotiation took place, the matter was settled for a total of $85,000 inclusive of costs and disbursements. Our client was pleased with the result.

We are a highly focused and specialized law firm being small enough to care, yet large enough to have solid financial, medical and expert resources to match the big defendants and insurance firms. Our “no win no fee’’ arrangements and written guarantee to reduce fees in the unlikely event of a poor result is unmatched in the legal industry Australia-wide.

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