Car accident at county lines: What a difference a minute can make

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People all across Tennessee may have been following the story of a young man who was killed in a car accident on the Davidson-Robertson County line. The victim was fatally injured when he was involved in a two-car accident which caused his car to rollover. The man was stuck inside the vehicle, trapped by his seatbelt while he waited for emergency responders to come.

However, it took the ambulance more than 15 minutes to arrive at the scene, and within 12 hours, the young man died from his injuries. The accident itself was devastating enough for his parents and family. But what made it more tragic was learning that he could have received emergency care as quickly as two or three minutes after the crash.

According to reports, the accident occurred in one county, but was only minutes from another county. Instead of dispatching the closer ambulances from the neighboring county, Metro dispatchers requested ambulances from the county in which the accident physically took place, even though they were at least 10 minutes further from the scene.

The victim’s mother has taken the issue to the courts to argue that ambulances should be dispatched based on who can respond faster, not according to county lines. Unfortunately, the Tennessee Court of Appeals disagreed and ruled that the dispatchers had no duty to call on emergency aid outside the jurisdiction.

As devastated as the mother was to learn of the ruling, it was an important argument to be made. People who are suffering and hurt after a car accident should be able to expect that they will receive the care they may desperately need as quickly as possible without becoming a victim of jurisdictional politics. This is reportedly the first case to challenge this apparent gap in the process, and hopefully it will not be the last. After a serious car accident, every second can count when it comes to getting help.

Source: The Tennessean, “Metro had ‘no duty’ to summon closer ambulance for man after wreck,” Brian Haas, Nov. 24, 2012

  • Victims of car accidents may suffer greatly after a crash. For more information on legal options that may be available, please visit our Memphis car accident page.