The California Supreme Court ruled this week that a woman who pulled a co-worker from a crashed vehicle can be sued due to damages her actions caused.
Alexandra Van Horn was one of a group of co-workers heading home in 2004 when the car they were in was involved in a serious accident. Van Horn managed to climb free of the wreckage, but fearing the car would be engulfed in flames pulled her co-worked Lisa Torti out of the wreck, in an attempt to save her life.
Torti though is now suing Van Horn, claiming that the good samaritan act of attempting to save her life worsened her injuries. Torti claims that Van Horn pulled her from the car “like a rag doll” directly causing her to become a paraplegic.
The High Court said in a tight ruling 4-3 that rescue efforts are the responsibility of trained professionals, and as such Van Horn can be sued for her act. A dissent ruling from three of the seven justices said that by making a distinction between medical care and emergency response, the court was placing “an arbitrary and unreasonable limitation” on protections for those trying to help.
Although the situation is undeniably tragic, it’s a sad state of affairs when the law could now prevent citizens providing assistance in emergency situations due to the fear of being sued. It won’t stop people trying to help, but imagine a situation where some did, and how many lives could now be lost due to the law in this situation being an ass.
(in part via LA Times)