On November 15, 2016 a Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of a patient who was injured while being transported in an ambulance when the gurney she was resting on overturned. Both the Village of Lindenhurst Fire Department and a volunteer EMT were found to have rendered emergency medical services without expectation of compensation. That fact, as a matter of public policy, changes the burden of proof from ordinary carelessness to gross negligence. Therefore, the Court found that the patient/plaintiff could not satisfy the higher standard of proof required when suing these volunteers.
The Court explained that the conduct of the EMT's was not so reckless or wantonly negligent as to be the equivalent of a conscious disregard of the rights of others. Unless the patient/plaintiff could prove gross negligence caused her gurney to overturn, the Fire Department and EMT (unpaid volunteers) were entitled to a pre-trial dismissal of the case.