Roy Ortiz was in Broomfield Country, Colorado last September when his vehicle suddenly plunged off the washed out road and into raging flood waters. The car flipped upside down and trapped Ortiz in the torrent.
Miraculously, Mr. Ortiz survived the incident by locating a pocket of air to breathe while he waited for two hours until rescuers pulled him out from the creek.
Now, he is suing the county and North Metro Fire Rescue $500,000 for negligence. Wait… what?
That’s right. Ortiz’s attorney, Ed Ferszt, says that rescue divers took much longer to come to his client’s aide than they should have because they didn’t realize he was still alive in the car. And while his client owes the rescuers his life, that doesn’t mean North Metro Fire is above reproach, according to Ferszt.
“If divers went into the water in an attempt to locate Roy and they didn’t see him there, as dangerous a job that it is, and we are thankful for first responders, that was a mistake,” the attorney told a Denver ABC affiliate. “And the legal term for that mistake is negligence.”
Since submitting his intent to sue his rescuers, Roy Ortiz has encountered a barrage of criticism and verbal attacks from people accusing him of being an “ambulance chaser” and for biting the hand that feeds. However, Ortiz, who has suffered from tissue damage, hypothermia, chronic shoulder problems and difficulty sleeping since incident, says that while he is happy to be alive, he is just looking for some help with his $40,000 medical tab.
“People react like I am a bad man for filing this. It’s not like that. I just tried to defend my rights. My name is being defamed; I’ve been working for the same company for 17 years, I’m co-pastor of a church in Aurora. People know me. I’ve never caused trouble.”
His attorney says that the media has wrongfully turned this case into a man suing his rescuers, but that it’s mostly about the other drivers involved and the county not closing off the road soon enough. Suing the rescuers is secondary.
Ortiz is also suing the insurance companies of two drivers who hit the washout after him and pushed his car underwater even further.
Ferszt commented that while they obviously aren’t planning to go for the entire $500,000 in actual damages as initially stated, a governmental immunity notice required that they come up with the figure.
There are two sides to every story, and it seems this case is much deeper than it appears on the surface. Still though, it can’t help but feel like a kick in the teeth to the rescuers who saved his life.
Lawsuits like these are often very difficult and drawn out. If you want to file a negligence claim, talk to an attorney first about your legal rights. Contact Denver personal injury attorney R. Mack Babcock (http://personal-injury.injurylawcolorado.com/) at The Babcock Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation of your case.