When you are unable to drive yourself to medical appointments due to disability or lack of a personal vehicle, non-emergency medical transportation providers can help you get to where you need to go. Non-emergency medical transportation, or NEMT, is a vital service for anyone who finds it difficult to get themselves to doctor’s appointments, medical treatments, diagnostic testing or other medical obligations.
In Georgia, NEMT providers are required to operate in accordance with a number of laws and regulations. Failure to do so could result in legal action and severe penalties. When a provider’s failure to comply with laws and regulations results in an accident, the results can be devastating. If you rely on this type of service and you are injured due to the provider’s negligence or failure to comply with state laws, you could be entitled to financial compensation.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Providers Are Held to a High Standard
Under Georgia law, a carrier is anyone who transports goods or passengers for compensation. A common carrier, however, is someone who “undertakes to carry, and holds himself/herself out as ready to receive for carriage, goods for hire which the person is accustomed to carry or passengers for hire without discrimination as long as there is room.” NEMT providers fall under the definition of a common carrier, and as such, they are held to a higher standard than regular carriers.
Common carriers are required by law to exercise extraordinary care. If a passenger is hurt or killed while in a common carrier’s care, the presumption of the law is against the NEMT provider, and they will be held accountable unless the injury/death occurred as the result of public enemies of the state or an act of God.
Unfortunately, not all NEMT providers meet the requirements of the law. They often fail to exercise extraordinary care to protect the lives of passengers and may recklessly endanger the people who rely on them to safely take them to and from important appointments.
Georgia’s Brokerage System for NEMT Providers
Georgia’s Department of Community Health uses a brokerage system for non-emergency medical transportation systems. Two brokers — LogistiCare and Southeastrans — coordinate and provide services for the entire state. LogistiCare services the Central, Southwest and East Regions. Southeastrans services Atlanta and the North region. These brokers are responsible for contracting with NEMT providers, verifying patient eligibility for NEMT service, paying providers, assigning trips and assuring quality.
In order for a provider to be contracted through a NEMT broker, it must be registered with the Georgia Department of Public Safety to provide transport services. Companies that offer non-emergency ambulance services must be certified by the Department of Human Services.
Things to Keep in Mind If You Are Injured by a NEMT Provider in Georgia
Compared to other states, Georgia’s laws and regulations regarding NEMT providers are significantly stricter. The laws exist to help ensure passenger safety, and when a provider fails to provide extraordinary care, they could face legal consequences.
When an accident involving a NEMT vehicle occurs, it should not be treated as a regular car accident, nor should it be a normal personal injury case. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the carelessness of a NEMT provider or the driver of another vehicle, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Navigating the complexities of this type of case can be extremely difficult, though, so it is vital to work with an attorney who is experienced with the intricacies of NEMT law.
There are several instances in which you may be entitled to compensation for injuries caused by NEMT drivers or providers. While accidents involving other vehicles or objects are one of the leading causes of injury, patients can also be injured if they are dropped while loading or unloading. Injuries can also occur when a NEMT driver fails to properly secure a passenger inside the vehicle or use equipment like wheelchair lifts correctly. Drivers who have not been trained in how to safely transfer patients to and from wheelchairs, stretchers and gurneys can cause serious harm. Injuries may also occur when patients are left in unsafe or extreme conditions.
Non-emergency medical transportation providers are required by law to provide exceptional care while transporting passengers. They must continue to provide this level of care when delivering passengers to their destination. Therefore, even injuries that occur before or after the trip may be the provider’s responsibility.
At Kopelman Sitton, we’ve helped countless people who have suffered serious injuries at the hands of NEMT providers. If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed as the result of the carelessness of a NEMT provider, please contact us right away.