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‘You Just Act,’ Says Good Samaritan

A passing Port St. Lucie truck driver valiantly attempted to rescue a driver and two passengers from a fiery car crash; unfortunately, he was only partially successful.

The truck driver happened upon a rollover SUV crash on State Road 60 in Alturas; investigators believe that a combination of excessive speed and distracted driving caused the SUV to leave the road and tumble into a ditch. After seeing the flaming SUV wreckage, the truck driver made a U-turn and returned to the crash scene. He used a fire extinguisher from his truck’s cab to temporarily put out the flames, and working with several other individuals, was able to drag the driver from the wreckage before the flames erupted again. “The thinking just kind of goes out and you just act,” he explained.

The injured driver is expected to be all right, but one passenger is in the hospital in critical condition and the other one – a 7-year-old child – was killed.

Negligent Undertaking

Like most states, Florida has a Good Samaritan law that provides immunity to emergency responders, in most instances. Although the law is specifically aimed at medical professionals (i.e. “is there a doctor in the house”), the measure applies to anyone else in a similar situation.

Bystanders who unsuccessfully attempt to render assistance to victims are liable for damages only if these responders:

  • Abandon their efforts to help; or
  • Are reckless during the course of rendering aid.

Liability also attaches if the victims relied on the assistance of their would-be rescuers.

Many times, there is an issue as to timing. For example, in the above story, assume that the truck driver made a U-turn, but then decided to proceed on his way. Or, assume that after he grabbed the fire extinguisher, he decided to go on his way. Either of these scenarios could give rise to liability.

A similar concept applies in other personal injury cases, such as those which involve third party alcohol liability.

Florida does not have a social host law, unless the host provided alcohol to minors. But assume that a party host announces that intoxicated party guests must stay the night, an intoxicated guest leaves, and that guest causes a car crash. In that scenario, a jury could plausibly conclude that the host voluntarily assumed a duty to prevent alcohol-involved crashes, and if the breach of that duty caused injury, the host might be liable for damages.

Multiple Tortfeasors

It is not unusual for more than one negligent party to be responsible for a plaintiff’s damages. For example, assume that the defendant’s vehicle collides with the plaintiff’s vehicle, the airbag in the plaintiff’s vehicle fails to deploy properly, and the plaintiff is injured.

In situations like this, Florida is one of only fourteen pure several liability states, meaning that the judge will apportion damages based on the jury’s determination of fault, such as 50 percent to Defendant One and 50 percent to Defendant Two.

Connect with Aggressive Attorneys

The laws pertaining to negligent undertaking sometimes impose liability on third parties. For a free consultation with Port St. Lucie attorneys who fight for the compensation you deserve, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

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