All 50 states have “Good Samaritan” laws which protect courageous bystanders who try to help someone in an emergency. Yet last month, the California Supreme Court ruled that when a Good Samaritan lifted a woman out of the wreckage of a car accident on Halloween night of 2004, that she was legally responsible for the woman’s paralysis.
Of course, our firm’s auto accident attorneys know all Californians should be discouraged from helping someone at the scene. By making the courageous act of attempting to save someone’s life, in addition to putting their own life at risk, they may also be putting their life savings at risk.
Alexandra Van Horn was a passenger in a single car accident when the car she was in crashed into a light pole. Her coworker, Lisa Torti, who was in another car, saw the auto accident and rushed over to help. Worried that Van Horn’s car would catch fire, Torti lifted Van Horn out of the front passenger seat. Van Horn ended up being paralyzed and sued Torti, contending that her carelessness in moving her after the car accident caused her to become paralyzed from her spinal cord injuries.
The California Supreme Court ruled in a 4-to-3 vote that the State’s Good Samaritan law when there is a car accident did not give Torti the right to move her, saying that the law only applies only to people who offer medical help. The group of justices that voted in Torti’s favor felt that “emergency care” should apply to both medical and nonmedical help, while the majority did not agree.
Our car accident lawyers are disturbed by this ruling’s implications. We hear stories of Good Samaritans all the time, whose actions have saved countless lives at the scene of a car accident. Discouraging people from helping others is never a good thing. People already sacrifice a lot — including their own livelihood — when attempting to save others, including putting themselves in danger of personal injury and needing medical treatment.
Why should they be penalized for doing their best while trying to save someone’s life?
If you were injured and believe that you deserve compensation, then call our bilingual law offices right away at 1-800-655-6585 or click here for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney and find out how we can help you. We look forward to providing good advice for your case. There is no fee if no recovery.