According to a recent report by WBTV, a controversy has erupted over who is responsible for cleaning up hazardous waste left after an accident involving injuries.
After the injured had been treated at the scene and sent off to receive additional medical care, what was left behind at the scene was a slew of bloody gauze and soiled latex gloves used by EMS to stabilize and treat the injured passengers. The law currently does not provide any guidance about who is supposed to clean up the scene of an accident. Mark Fagala, a biohazard specialist, said, “EMS takes ’em in, Highway Patrol clears, and it’s just left for the property owner to clean up.”
The homeowner with bloody gauze strewn around his yard was not satisfied with being responsible for having to clean up a mess for which he was not responsible. He called the City of Charlotte and complained. Someone was immediately sent out to properly dispose of the hazardous waste. There are guidelines for proper disposal of biological waste and the fact that there are not clear provisions regarding the clean-up after an accident means that someone has dropped the ball.
Only two states in the country have specific rules for disposal of biological waste, Florida and California. North Carolina has no such laws and Fagala thinks that it is time for that to change. The risk of infection and injury is high in this situation. The owners of the property where an accident has occurred has no way of knowing if any of the injured people carried life threatening diseases and whether they are putting their own health at risk if they attempt to dispose of the material.
The best and most efficient thing to do is to lobby lawmakers to draft a bill addressing this issue. There are several possibilities. EMS could be required to come back and clean the scene. EMS could be required to notify an accident and crime scene clean-up agency prior to leaving the scene. The police department could also be required to do the same. Whatever the avenue taken by lawmakers, it will be better than leaving an innocent property owner with the responsibility of clearing their property of hazardous material.
Because there is a gap in the law regarding who is responsible for clean-up of hazardous waste, if one of these homeowners is seriously hurt or injured by the left-over biological evidence, there is no clearly defined duty, making liability difficult to determine. It would seem unfair for an innocent property owner to go uncompensated for a serious injury because the lawmakers have failed to provide for that duty. Unfortunately, that is the current state of the law and if it is not corrected, the property owner will be left holding the bag.
Establishing a case for liability in the event that a property owner is injured by the biological waste will be extremely difficult and will require the services of a skilled Charlotte personal injury attorney. If you find yourself injured in similar circumstances, contact the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Call (704) 370-2828 today for a free consultation.
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