Ruling in Auto vs Malpractice Coverage Overturned

A Midland Texas U.S. District Court ruling concerning an Ambulance liability suit has been overturned on appeal.

In the summer of 2006 Preferred Ambulance, based in Mission TX, was transporting Darline Rigsby from a dialysis center to her home. When placing her into the ambulance the gurney tipped over causing a fractured shoulder and additional complications for the patient. When Rigsby died several days later from a heart attack her daughter sued Preferred.

A $200,000 settlement was made with Preferred’s auto insurer (Scottsdale) and malpractice insurer (Western World) each contributing half. The two insurance companies then sued each other to recover their payments.

The original ruling was in favor of Scottsdale, the auto insurer, and asserted the injury was medical malpractice. However, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District determined that the appropriate cover was under auto liability. Their ruling is here.

The appeals court based their ruling on the fact that the EMT had his hand on the ambulance door when the stretcher tipped, making the event an auto liability claim. The case shows the importance of coordinating coverage. Many events could span multiple insurance companies, placing coverage with the same carrier or clearly delineating policy wording can save insurance buyers years of frustration and litigation expenses.

As experts on insuring medical transport providers, contact us today to discuss better protecting your organization.