What sounds like a horrible nightmare, actually happened to one North Carolina man, he was placed in a body bag and refrigerated drawer while still alive. The man had suffered a severe open head wound after being hit by a car.
On the scene of the 2005 North Carolina car accident EMS workers declared the man dead and placed a sheet over him. However, several witnesses of the accident reportedly saw movement in the man's abdomen and chest. The medical examiner on the scene allegedly said it was "only air escaping the body."
At the morgue, the man was placed into refrigeration. Two hours later, a highway patrolman requested to view the body to see the direction of impact. After unzipping the body bag, the medical examiner noticed the man was breathing. The man was admitted to a local hospital for several weeks. Unfortunately the man is still bed ridden and struggles to speak; there is little chance his condition will improve significantly.
Two paramedics settled with the man for $1 million. The injured man and his parents filed a lawsuit for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the other emergency responders and the medical examiner. The trial court found in favor of the defendants, and the lawsuit was appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. In December of 2011, the North Carolina Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court by finding the defendants had immunity because there was no showing of intentional wrongdoing.
The circumstances of this case are unique, and first responders are not always immune from lawsuits when the actions they take result in further injury to those needing emergency assistance. If you suspect you or a loved one was injured by the actions of first responders consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine your rights and options.