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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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Victim withholds blame 10 years after Wisconsin ambulance crash

Investigators discovered a combination of factors that caused a fatal 2003 ambulance crash. The roads were wet in Mosinee on that summer day. The newly paved Wisconsin road was slick. The ambulance driver was hurrying because the on-board patient lost consciousness.

The ambulance driver lost control at 75 mph. The emergency vehicle skidded off Interstate 39 and rolled. The patient died of massive head wounds. One of two EMTs in the rear of the vehicle suffered a permanent, paralyzing back injury. Nearly 10 years later, the former emergency medical responder receives the benefits of at-home nursing care but feels no sensations below his head.

The disabled Mosinee man was part of an EMT crew responsible for the maintenance of department ambulances. A state inspector flagged the ambulance for balding tires two days before the fatal accident. The crash occurred within the state's acceptable 10-day time frame to replace the tires.

The injury victim still wonders why he and his crew used the ambulance that failed inspection when a back-up vehicle was available. The disabled man also questions why the state didn't force the noncompliant ambulance off the road until it was repaired.

Adjusting to a life of disability has been more than physical for the victim. The man's home had to be refitted to accommodate his condition. Two years after the deadly crash, the injured man's wife divorced him.

The victim partially holds himself to blame for the accident. Despite his hardships, the 42-year-old said he would never "point the finger" at his employer or former co-workers.

Workers' compensation insurance is mandatory for most Wisconsin employers. A worker who suffers permanent total disability receives benefits based on wages.

Workers' compensation benefits' disputes often surround the permanence of an injury and the injury victim's ability to work. A Wisconsin workplace accident victim can fight challenges to his benefits with the advice of an attorney experienced with state workers' laws.

Source: thenorthwestern.com, "After crash, former EMT hopes for better Wisconsin ambulance safety," Kathleen Foody, Feb. 16, 2013

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