New Jersey Court Rules Couple Can Sue For Wrongful Death

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In retrospect, there are a wide range of things that each party involved in a tragic New Jersey shooting might have done differently. None of this hindsight will be able to bring back a New Jersey couple’s son, who died by gunshot at the hand of his own brother. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently overturned lower court decisions and ruled that the parents are entitled to pursue a wrongful death action against the rescue squad who the couple claims was negligent in their treatment of their son.

The son was shot by his younger brother outside their parents’ home in 2004. The parents, who were in the house at the time of the shooting, rushed outside to find their son injured. The mother immediately called 911 and rescue personal arrived about four minutes later. It is at this point that the parents allege the negligent conduct began.

The parents claim that the ambulance wasted over 30 minutes trying to administer aide to their wounded son at the scene of the shooting instead of transporting him to a hospital that was only two minutes away. This conduct, according to a medical examiner, deprived the son of any chance for survival. According to court records, if the son had been timely transported to the hospital, he would have had a 20 to 30 percent chance of survival.

The court found that the individual rescuers were protected by law from liability for their good-faith efforts to save an individual’s life. However, the court also found that the rescue squad, as an entity, could be sued for claims for liability. As a result of this decision, wrongful death actions can proceed to determine whether the rescue squad is liable.

Source:, “NJ Supreme Court rules Plainfield couple can sue rescue squad for failing to save shot son,” Mark Spivey, July 19, 2012

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