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Judge rejects lawsuit by man who blames ambulance for his injuries

Man claimed he was hurt when ambulance responding to an emergency forced him to stop at traffic light
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ambulance-paramedic
(Supplied)

A judge in Sudbury has ruled against a man who sued the city claiming a paramedic was reckless when he went through a red light while responding to an emergency call.

The incident took place in 2014, but the judgment wasn't issued until this spring. Transcripts from the case say the ambulance approached the lights at the corner of Brady and Minto streets, with its lights flashing and siren blaring intermittently.

The ambulance was responding to a Code 4 call, which is a life-threatening situation. The plaintiff was waiting at the light, which was red, behind another vehicle. It turned green just as the ambulance was turning onto Brady Street from Shaughnessy Street.

“The light turned green, and the plaintiff began to drive forward just as (the) ambulance was turning onto Brady Street,” the transcript says.

The car ahead of the plaintiff stopped suddenly to accommodate the ambulance, and the plaintiff argued he was forced to lay down his motorcycle to avoid hitting the car, causing him to injure himself.

Using an “expert” analysis the judge would eventually reject, the plaintiff's lawyers argued the paramedic “startled” them, causing the car ahead to stop suddenly and causing the injuries. If the ambulance driver had kept his siren going continually and driven at a slower speed, the expert concluded that the drivers wouldn't have been startled and no injuries would have occurred.

But in his decision, the judge says the expert analysis amounted to little more than speculation.

“The conclusion that had (the paramedic) used his siren continuously, and not intermittently as he did, the accident would likely not have happened, is unsupported by any admissible evidence,” the judge wrote.

“In fact, the plaintiff became aware of the oncoming ambulance as a result of hearing its intermittent siren before the ambulance turned onto Brady Street. There is no evidence that any other driver but the unidentified driver ahead of the plaintiff, was startled, and conducted itself in a panicked manner. There was no contact between any of the vehicles that were present that night, and the ambulance came to a stop some four car lengths away from the plaintiff.”

If the plaintiff heard the siren, the judge wrote they would have to prove the driver ahead of them didn't. Since they don't know who the driver was, that's impossible to establish, the judge wrote.

“The opinion that the ambulance’s speed was excessive is likewise unsupported by any evidence,” the transcript says. “In fact, the evidence discloses that at no time, from leaving the Van Horne ambulance depot until it came to a complete stop behind the plaintiff’s downed motorcycle, did the ambulance’s speed exceed 43 km/hr (in a 50 km/hr zone).

“Even assuming that the unidentified driver braked suddenly in front of the plaintiff, this does not, without more, establish any wrongdoing.” 




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