Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/7/13: The Duty To Rescue

Most common law countries impose no general duty to rescue another person, and therefore typically impose no liability for failing to do so. There are two exceptions to this: (a) people who create a hazardous situation, regardless of whether they did so negligently, are held to have a duty towards those they have imperiled; and (b) people who have “special relationships” with those to which they owe a duty of care, either through position or employment. Examples of these special relationships would be the duty of emergency workers to the public (e.g., firefighters, EMTs, etc.). However, non-emergency personnel can also have duties to rescue, most notably parents towards their children (or people acting in loco parentis, such as school teachers and babysitters), a spouse towards his or her partner, and a property owner towards people who are lawfully on their property (such as hoteliers to their guests). In the case of non-emergency workers, the duty to rescue is obviated should a rescuer’s own life be imperiled through the attempt. As of 2009, ten states had laws that required that third parties, at a minimum, notify law enforcement or seek to aid people in peril.


Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/7/13: The Duty To Rescue — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/14/13: Good Samaritan Laws | Ian C. Pilarczyk

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