Why Knowing How to Call 911 Matters in Wrongful Death Cases

If you’ve ever been in an accident or experienced a horrific event that forced you to call 911, then perhaps you can recall the feeling of panic and fear more than you can the actual call. This scenario is very common. Many people are unable to make out full sentences or speak with clarity. However, as a wrongful death lawyer, we must advocate the sincere importance of these calls as many may result in wrongful death lawsuits. Texas, in particular, has dealt with a Supreme Court level case.     

Texas’ Wrongful Death Investigation

In 2016, the Texas Supreme Court had to consider whether an error in a 911 dispatcher call was a wrongful death verdict, in which the operator would be found the guilty. The 911 calls were placed by two different numbers within a 10-minute timespan, coming from the same apartment building in Dallas, TX. Both callers were seeking help for a drug overdose victim. When the operator answered the second call, it was assumed that the victim was calling on behalf of the same incident. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Emergency responders did not show up to the apartment and the man who needed assistance died. The parents of the victim sued the city for negligence based on the fact that 911 dispatcher ended the call without proper procedures, which could have saved their son’s life.

In the end, the court ruled that the cause of death (drug overdose) and the alleged phone malfunction were “disconnected” since there were five years between the time the call was placed and the death.

Certainly, the pain associated with the loss of a life and the alleged malfunction in the 911 call were lessons learned by the city’s 911 dispatcher department. When you find yourself on the other end of the line, knowing how to handle call will put you in the best position to receive help.

How to Properly Call 911 to Help Improve the Situation

It’s natural to feel scared, overwhelmed and stressed during an emergency. Many people report feeling overwhelmed when they call 911, especially because the voice on the end of the line is completely calm. It’s important to understand that 911 operators are trained to deal with panic or upset callers. Their job is to gather as much information as possible in order to send the correct assistance to the right place in a prompt manner.

Following these directions to the best of your ability can make a difference in the outcome of the event:   

  1. Remain Calm. Yes, it’s easy for this first step to go completely ignored. But remaining calm is the best thing you can do in order to provide the operator with clear information.   
  2. Know Your Location. If your cell phone has restrictions to share your location, then it’s absolutely important that you know your location. The operator may ask you where you’re located more than once. Do not get frustrated! They are simply trying to verify your location so they can send assistance to the correct address. Many people tend to provide the wrong location given their stress.   
  3. Let the Dispatcher Know You’re in Danger. Let the operator know your life and/or others is at risk.
  4. Answer Questions. The operator needs to gather as much information as possible. Remember, they’ve been trained to handle these calls. Help is likely already on its way but the dispatcher may need additional details.
  5. Follow Directions. The dispatcher may give you instructions on how to best handle the situation until help arrives. Try to follow their directions as best as possible.
  6. Do Not Hang Up. Do not end the call until the dispatcher says to do so. They may attempt to assist you until the emergency responders arrive.

Speak With a Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe your loved one lost his or life because of the mistake of a 911 dispatcher, speak to a wrongful death lawyer. A wrongful death lawyer will assess the case and offer you clarity.  

Contact Us Today

The Huerta Law Firm is dedicated to providing individuals who’ve lost a loved one because of the negligence of another individual or entity. Our firm strongly believes in providing you with the peace of justice. Please contact us today to meet with a reputable wrongful death lawyer in El Paso.