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This decision is consistent with the law in most states that generally says, if you come across an injured person, you have no legal duty to administer aid, but, if you decide to do so, you must exercise a reasonable degree of care in doing so. If you panic and cause even greater injury to the person as a result of your careless, negligent behavior, you might be liable in damages for your conduct.
In this decision, the court didn't say that the defendant was liable. This was a decision on a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, in which the defendant claimed that there was no rational legal or factual basis by which the defendant could be found liable, and asked the court to dismiss the case without trial.
The court pointed out that there was a dispute as to the facts in the case. The defendant claimed that she carefully lifted the plaintiff from a wrecked car because she saw smoke and thought the car might burst into flames and explode. Witnesses for the plaintiff claimed that there was no smoke or fire (and thus no need to immediately remove the plaintiff from the car), and that, in any case, the defendant didn't lift the plaintiff carefully from the car - she grabbed the plaintiff by the arm and pulled her out like a rag doll. As a direct result of the rough treatment, the plaintiff will be crippled for life.
The court simply said that there was a factual dispute, and a legal basis for liability on the part of the defendant, if the facts alleged by the plaintiff were found to be true.
If some dimwit panicked and jerked my injured body out of a wrecked car for no good reason and crippled me for life, you can bet I'd be plenty angry.
This case will be scheduled for trial, and both parties will have an opportunity to present their evidence and prove what really happened.
This ruling doesn't suggest that you not give aid where needed. It simply says, if you give aid, exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, so that you are not likely to cause even greater injury. If you exercise reasonable care under emergency circumstances, and the person nevertheless is injured, the law won't hold you liable. You'll only be held liable for your negligent actions.
Last edited by Sailormon6; 12-31-2008 at 09:48 AM.